Well, it’s been quite a day. The world’s leading nations have committed to developing treatment or a cure for dementia by 2025. Sounds encouraging doesn’t it? But what does it mean? And is that a promise which can be kept? Time, as they say, will tell.
If today means that more people are a little more aware of the worldwide threat posed by dementia, then it will have achieved something significant. Pledges to increase funding for research highlighted again the shameful position in which we find ourselves today. At present, the UK government contributes £52m to research into the causes of dementia. The same government commits £267m to cancer research. The gap is immense and does a real injustice to all whose lives have been touched by dementia. It’s no wonder that some feel like second-class citizens. The government is to double its spend but that will still leave dementia as the poorest of poor relations. Words are fine – and I applaud the Prime Minister for staging today’s summit – but what we really, really need is action.
I think the most interesting statement to emerge from today’s discussions and debates is the call on the World Health Organisation to identify dementia as “an increasing threat to global health”. Not a moment too soon. I wonder if the government here will follow that lead and treat dementia as a medical condition when it comes to care. At present, dementia is a social care issue with all the baggage that issue brings with it.
Mum didn’t seem very impressed. She was wearing similar headwear – albeit without the beard – when my sister and I arrived at the party but it didn’t stay on her head for long. Attempts to persuade her to put it back on were rebuffed in no uncertain terms. Despite the photographic evidence, I’m sure Mum enjoyed the party.
Today’s G8 promises won’t make any difference to Mum or to the millions of people living with dementia worldwide. But, please, please let’s make today’s words into tomorrow’s deeds.