G8 sets 2025 dementia breakthrough target

Leading economies agree that a funding surge for research is needed as experts warn of a dementia time-bomb.

    Britain promises to double its expenditure on dementia research [AFP]
    Britain promises to double its expenditure on dementia research [AFP]

    The Group of Eight (G8) nations have set a goal of finding a cure or effective treatment for dementia by 2025 and ministers said the world needed to fight the spread of the memory-robbing condition just as it fought AIDS.

    At the first-ever G8 meeting on combating the disease on Wednesday hosted by the UK, British Prime Minister David Cameron declared that discovering a cure or treatment for dementia is "within our grasp".

    This disease steals lives, it wrecks families, it breaks hearts and that is why all of us here are so utterly determined to beat it.

    David Cameron, British PM

    Experts warn of a dementia time-bomb, with cases set to soar as the global population ages.

    Health ministers from the G8 - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US - agreed on a funding surge for research in a bid to hit the 2025 target, amid warnings that the escalating problem could bankrupt healthcare budgets if a cure is not found.

    "No one here is in any doubt about the scale of the dementia crisis," Cameron told the meeting.

    "A new case every four seconds; a global cost of $600bn a year and that is nothing to say of the human cost.

    "This disease steals lives, it wrecks families, it breaks hearts and that is why all of us here are so utterly determined to beat it."

    The currently incurable condition afflicts some 44 million people worldwide - most of them elderly. That number is projected to jump to 76 million by 2030.

    Funding pledges

    Scientists are still struggling to understand the basic biology of the disease.

    "In terms of a cure, or even a treatment that can modify the disease, we are empty-handed," World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan told ministers, campaigners, scientists and drug industry executives at the summit.

    Ending that drug drought will require more investment by governments and the private sector. The G8 ministers pledged to increase spending "significantly" - with Britain promising to double its expenditure - but officials stopped short of giving
    an overall funding figure.

    British Health Minister Jeremy Hunt said there were lessons to be learnt from the fight against AIDS, where a 2005 G8 summit played a key role in pushing for better and more widely available drugs.

    "We have turned the global tide in the battle against AIDS. Now we need to do it again. We will bankrupt our healthcare
    systems if we don't," he said.

    The health ministers also agreed to appoint a global envoy for dementia innovation, following a template used for HIV and
    climate change.

    Sufferers of dementia, of which Alzheimer's disease is the most common form, often end up needing full-time care as it attacks their memory, reasoning and other brain functions.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'Money can't buy us': Mapping Canada's oil pipeline battle

    'Money can't buy us': Mapping Canada's oil pipeline battle

    We travel more than 2,000km and visit communities along the route of the oil pipeline that cuts across Indigenous land.

    Women under ISIL: The wives

    Women under ISIL: The wives

    Women married to ISIL fighters share accounts of being made to watch executions and strap explosives to other women.

    Diplomats for sale: How an ambassadorship was bought and lost

    Diplomats for sale: How an ambassadorship was bought and lost

    The story of Ali Reza Monfared, the Iranian who tried to buy diplomatic immunity after embezzling millions of dollars.