Mental health

First WHO Ministerial Conference on Global Action Against Dementia

Cathy Greenblat

On 16 and 17 March 2015, WHO hosted its first Ministerial Conference on Global Action Against Dementia. Ministers from around the world, as well as experts from the research, clinical and NGO communities, came together in Geneva for the first time to discuss the global problems posed by dementia.

The conference was supported by the Department of Health of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Both days were webcast.


Cathy Greenblat

Dementia is a syndrome that affects memory, thinking, behaviour and ability to perform everyday activities – usually of a chronic or progressive nature. The number of people living with dementia worldwide is currently estimated at 35.6 million. This number will double by 2030 and more than triple by 2050.

Dementia is overwhelming not only for the people who have it, but also for their caregivers and families. There is a lack of awareness and understanding of dementia in most countries, resulting in stigmatization and barriers to diagnosis and care.

Dementia: a public health priority

The report has been jointly developed by WHO and Alzheimer's Disease International.

The purpose of this report is to raise awareness of dementia as a public health priority, to articulate a public health approach and to advocate for action at international and national levels.

China: Improving home care for dementia patients

Sun Yuhua (left) and her husband Zhou Zhensheng attend a caregiver support group meeting together.
Xiong Bin

When she was 71, Sun Yuhua started to lose her memory. She kept forgetting what she had just said or done. She would repeat the same question again and again and fail to remember the answer. Worst of all, she could no longer manage to perform simple household chores.

Dementia is a progressive brain disorder that makes it increasingly difficult to remember things, think clearly and communicate with others. It is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people worldwide. An estimated 9.19 million people in China suffer from the disorder, more than any other country in the world.