September marks the global World Alzheimer’s Month, an international campaign to raise awareness and challenge stigma. To commemorate World Alzheimer’s Month, Alzheimer’s Pakistan in collaboration with Services Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS) organized a Seminar on World Alzheimer’s Day at SIMS Auditorium.
The seminar started with a welcome address by Prof. Mahmood Ayaz, Principal SIMS. Dr. Adnan Aslam, Associate Professor and head of Neurology Department (SIMS/SHL) gave an overview of Dementia and highlighted that the number of people living with dementia (PWD) around the world is expected to almost double every 20 years, reaching 152 million by 2050, if effective risk-reduction strategies are not implemented worldwide. Dementia mainly affects people over the age of 65 years. The rapid increase in number of PWD shows that the world is aging fast, resulting in having huge global impact of dementia on societies globally.
Prof. Dr. Asghar Zaidi from Seoul National University, Korea launched the report of an international qualitative research conducted in Pakistan titled ‘Understanding, Beliefs and Treatment of Dementia in Pakistan’. He commented that “Dementia is a global health priority, but progress towards its understanding and treatment in low and middle-income countries has been slow, despite rapidly ageing populations. We hope this report will inform policymakers in Pakistan and across South Asia – helping to improve the lives of people with the disease and their caregivers.”
Prof. Dr. Iracema Leroi, Global Brain Health Institute, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland presented on Dementia Research Roadmap in Pakistan: What are the Priorities. She said that the Research Roadmap prioritises research questions for dementia research in Pakistan and classifies research domains that include public awareness and understanding; prevention, identification, and reduction of risk; quality of care for people with dementia and their carers; and delivery of care and services for people with dementia and their carers
Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Hussain Jafri, secretary general, Alzheimer’s Pakistan said that that there are around one million PWD in Pakistan, however, there are no services provided by the government. He highlighted that the Pakistan is a signatory to World Health Organization’s global plan on dementia thus putting the responsibility of increasing awareness, detection, treatment and care of dementia on the government.
Speaking at this occasion, Dr. Yasmin Rashid, Minister of Health, Punjab said that the increase in the number of PWD is alarming and it is time that we initiate the much needed healthcare services for the elderly in the province including the PWD. She announced that that the Punjab Health Department shall soon launch the provincial Dementia plan. Under this plan, a range of services shall be provided such as hospital based memory clinics, resource mobilization for early diagnosis & treatment, counselling services to caregivers and mass awareness. Moreover, a provincial Dementia committee has been established by the Health Department Punjab, which is currently making working towards establishing registry of people with Dementia at all the hospitals. She also announced the establishment of a Dementia Center being established in collaboration with Alzheimer’s Pakistan at SIMS.
She also launched a report on “Forgotten in Crisis: Addressing dementia in humanitarian response”, co-produced by the Global Alzheimer’s & Dementia Action Alliance (GADAA), Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) and Alzheimer’s Pakistan. The report paves the way for humanitarian agencies and government bodies to recognise the unique needs of people with dementia, before, during and after emergencies – something that has so far not been addressed. The report contributes to a growing awareness of the need to address disability in humanitarian settings and is the first report to specifically highlight dementia.
The seminar was attended by a large number of doctors, students and Dementia caregivers. The seminar ended with vote of thanks by Mr. Zia Haider Rizvi.