Over 41 million cases of dementia currently go undiagnosed across the world, a new global report has revealed.
The research, commissioned by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), predicts an unprecedented demand for services that could overwhelm struggling healthcare systems.
Global dementia experts are now calling on health leaders to improve dementia specialist training and employ better medical diagnostic equipment.
“For over 20 years we have been calling on world governments to implement national dementia plans, and frankly, progress has been too slow,” said ADI chief executive Paula Barbarino.
“This misinformation in our healthcare systems, along with a lack of trained specialists and readily available diagnosis tools, have contributed to alarmingly low diagnosis rates.
“Now the tide has turned, and demand is set to skyrocket. Governments must respond now.”
Dementia is the seventh leading cause of death worldwide, with more than 55 million people currently living with the condition, according to the World Health Organization.
The ADI report surveyed 3,524 clinicians, people living with dementia, and their carers.
It found that stigmatisation remained a leading barrier to accurate and early diagnoses, with 33 per cent of health clinicians claiming they believed there was no cure.
Only 45 per cent of people with dementia reported that they were given accurate information when diagnosed.
The report also highlighted the significant impact of COVID-19 on cognitive health treatment.
Over 90 per cent of clinicians agreed that their patients had experienced significant delays and increased wait times for brain assessments.
Of the report’s recommendations, the need to tailor telehealth services to supplement dementia treatment and prevention was emphasised.
Other key recommendations included annual brain checkups for people over 50, better public recording of diagnosis, and advancements in treatments and prevention strategies.
Barbarino, who represents a global federation of over 100 Alzheimer's and dementia associations, said that future planning is essential to tackle the oncoming demand for diagnosis.
“People with dementia have a right to know their diagnosis, so they can know what to do next,” said Barbarino.
“This is a progressive disease, and figures are growing every year. There is a perfect storm gathering on the horizon and governments all over the world should get to grips with it.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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