A Matter of Dignity

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Context:

  • The 2018 WHO dementia plan focuses on the urgent need for a multi-phased approach and a multi-sectoral policy response to address the needs of people with dementia, their carers and families. The rapid increase in ageing population across countries requires national strategies to deal with age-related diseases — dementia care is becoming a significant issue.

Facts & Figures:

  • According to the WHO, it affects 50 million people worldwide; a number that is projected to increase to 82 million by 2030 and 152 million by 2050.
  • According to some estimates, one person gets affected by dementia every three seconds.

About Dementia

  • Dementia is a form of cognitive impairment that affects memory and other cognitive abilities and significantly interferes with a person’s ability to perform daily activities
  • Data from many parts of the world reveals age as a risk factor for dementia — though the debilitating condition is not an inevitable consequence of ageing

Social stigma related to dementia

  • Studies have revealed how the stigma attached to the disease leads to the social isolation of patients, their families and careers
  • Research has thrown light on the deterioration in the quality of their lives
  • Studies that draw on interactions with people affected by dementia, their families and caregivers indicate that several of the needs of such people — social, economic or those related to health — remain unfulfilled
  • For instance, leave concessions at work, adaptable housing environments, adequate diagnostic facilities, treatment options, care provisions and risk reduction measures for people with dementia are not in place
  • Many require psychological support, biomedical facilities, appropriate medications, counselling services and end of life care. But these are not available

WHO action plan on dementia

  • The complexity of needs cutting across health, economic and social sector requires attention and policy responses
  • 2018 WHO dementia plan focuses on the urgent need for a multi-phased approach and a multi-sectoral policy response to address the needs of people with dementia, their carers and families
  • Over a year ago, the World Health Assembly in Geneva adopted the Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017-2025
  • India endorsed the plan, confirming its commitment to improving the lives of people with dementia, their carers and families

Policy action that needs to be taken in India

  • The country’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goals — especially with respect to Goal 3 that deals with good health and well being — and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities should push it into formulating a strategy to deal with this debilitating condition
  • Such a plan should incorporate public awareness campaigns and research

Way forward

  • As the percentage of aged people in the country increases, improving the lives of people with dementia and their families and careers must become a national priority
  • These programmes could be aligned with existing policies and care models.

Source:IE