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Global Status Report on the Public Health Response to Dementia
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Global Status Report on the Public Health Response to Dementia

by Public Health Update


Dementia is a leading cause of disability and dependency globally. Lack of awareness and understanding lead to widespread stigmatization and discrimination against people with dementia, which may prevent them from accessing diagnosis and care.

The Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017-2025 represents the formal commitment by WHO Member States to develop comprehensive multisectoral responses to address dementia worldwide. It contributes to WHO’s Triple Billion Targets and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by improving timely diagnosis, treatment, (long-term) care and rehabilitation for people with dementia; promoting population-wide risk reduction efforts for dementia; and ensuring that the needs of people with dementia and their carers are met within the context of humanitarian crises and emergencies, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has had a disproportionate impact on older people and especially people living with dementia.

Halfway into the implementation of the Global dementia action plan, the Global status report on the public health response to dementia aims to provide essential information to assess the global progress. It takes stock of actions driven by Member States, WHO and civil society since the adoption of the Global dementia action plan in 2017, identifies barriers to its implementation especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and highlights areas where urgent, accelerated action is required. It is hoped that the report will lead to increased international and national advocacy efforts and the prioritization of dementia on the global health agenda.

Target audience

This report is written for national and state policy-makers, health-sector planners, academics and researchers, organizations involved in dementia education and service provision, as well as people living with dementia, their carers and families.

Key message

World failing to address dementia challenge

  • At the same time, the number of people living with dementia is growing according to the report: WHO estimates that more than 55 million people (8.1 % of women and 5.4% of men over 65 years) are living with dementia. This number is estimated to rise to 78 million by 2030 and to 139 million by 2050.
  • Dementia is caused by a variety of diseases and injuries that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease or stroke.
  • It affects memory and other cognitive functions, as well as the ability to perform everyday tasks.
  • The disability associated with dementia is a key driver of costs related to the condition.
  • In 2019, the global cost of dementia was estimated to be US$ 1.3 trillion. The cost is projected to increase to US$ 1.7 trillion by 2030, or US$ 2.8 trillion if corrected for increases in care costs.
  • The report highlights the urgent need to strengthen support at national level, both in terms of care for people with dementia, and in support for the people who provide that care, in both formal and informal settings.


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