Launching the World Health Organization’s (WHO) first blueprint for dementia research on Tuesday, its Chief Scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, said that Dementia is one of the greatest health challenges of our generation, and although dementia is the 7th leading cause of death globally, dementia research accounts for less than 1.5% of total health research output.
Dr Swaminathan added that sadly, we are falling behind implementing the global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017-25. Addressing dementia comprehensively requires research and innovation to be an integral part of the response, and that strategies are needed to better understand, prevent, and treat the underlying diseases that cause dementia and, at the same time, provide care and support for people with dementia and their care-givers.
“Moreover, dementia research needs to be conducted within an enabling environment, where collaborations are fostered, and equitable and sustained investment is realized”, she stated.
With these objectives, WHO has developed a blueprint for dementia research, the first WHO initiative of its kind for noncommunicable diseases. The blueprint is designed to provide guidance to policy makers, funders, and the research community on dementia research, making it more efficient, equitable, and impactful.
Specifically, this blueprint on dementia research builds on and applies lessons learned from WHO efforts to prioritize research and coordinate research activities for infectious diseases; considers the entire dementia research spectrum, incorporating diagnostics and therapeutics, as well as emerging scientific and technological advances such as artificial intelligence, multiomics, and biomarkers; encompasses epidemiology, health economics, care and carer research, risk reduction, and brain health across the life course; and provides insights on different drivers of research, such as sustainable funding, diversity and equity, and the involvement of people with lived experience of dementia throughout the research development process.
“We can achieve progress in dementia research by strengthening and monitoring the drivers of research highlighted in the blueprint so that they become the norm for good research practice”, said Dr Ren Minghui, WHO’s Assistant Director General UHC/Communicable & Noncommunicable Diseases.