Dementia, the Next Global Epidemic?
> 12/16/2005 1:06:20 PM

The BBC reported today on the probability that worldwide cases of dementia would explode within the next couple of decades.  First published in the British medical journal The Lancet, the study from which the BBC drew their information asked 12 dementia and Alzheimers experts to examine existing data and estimate worldwide incidence rates of dementia for the years 2001, 2020 and 2040.

As shown in the bar graph below, the results of the study predict a distinct problem facing mental health workers throughtout the world.  Compounding the situation, the study esitmated that as of 2001, 60% of those suffering with dementia were living in developing countries with that number ballooning up to 71% by 2040.  Worldwide totals of dementia cases are expected to top 80 million by 2040.

Orien Reid, chairman of Alzheimer's Disease International, the group that sponsored the study, was quoted by the BBC as saying:

"We are faced with a ticking time bomb.

"Governments must start to plan policy, and allocate health and welfare resources for the future.

"Another cause for concern is that millions of these cases of dementia are going undiagnosed - meaning that, through ignorance and stigma, people aren't receiving the care and services that they so desperately need."

For any number of reasons, not the least of which is the diseases lack of "marketability" in the international media, Alzheimer's often flies under the radar.  But as this study clearly points out, it is a powerful health problem and one that the international community may have to address sooner rather than later.  As one of the world leaders in medical innovation, one can only hope that the United States will take the lead on this coming epidemic and see that progress is made.

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