Launch of the first WHO blueprint for dementia research
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Geneva – October 4, 2022 — Dementia is one of the greatest health problems of our generation. “Although dementia is the 7th leading cause of death worldwide, dementia research accounts for less than 1.5% of total health research output,” said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist of the WHO.
“Unfortunately, we are falling behind in the implementation of the Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017-25. To tackle dementia comprehensively, research and innovation must be an integral part of the response.
Strategies are needed to better understand, prevent and treat the underlying conditions that cause dementia and, at the same time, provide care and support to people with dementia and their caregivers.
Additionally, dementia research must be conducted in an enabling environment, where collaborations are encouraged and equitable and sustained investments are made.
With these objectives, WHO has developed a dementia research model, WHO’s first such initiative for non-communicable 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, the Blueprint for Dementia Research:
- builds on and applies lessons learned from WHO efforts to prioritize research and coordinate infectious disease research activities;
- considers the full spectrum of dementia research, integrating diagnostics and therapeutics, as well as emerging scientific and technological advances such as artificial intelligence, multiomics and biomarkers;
- encompasses epidemiology, health economics, care and caregiver research, harm reduction and brain health across the lifespan; and
- provides information on the different drivers of research, such as sustainable funding, diversity and equity, and involving people with lived experience of dementia throughout the research development process.
“We can make progress in dementia research by strengthening and monitoring the search engines highlighted in the Blueprint so that they become the standard for good search practice.” said Dr Ren Minghui, WHO Assistant Director General for UHC/Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases.
WHO encourages national and international research agencies, as well as other funding bodies, to use this blueprint to inform future funding streams and operationalize search engines. Civil society can ensure that advocacy efforts are also aligned, supporting the drive for a more equitable, effective and collaborative research landscape. Additionally, researchers can support the achievement of the milestones and strategic objectives of this blueprint by filling identified research gaps.
WHO will work with all stakeholders in relevant sectors to ensure that the actions outlined in the blueprint are implemented, milestones achieved and strategic objectives achieved, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of life and support for people with dementia. , their caregivers and their families.