Tuesday, November 30, 2010

European action on Alzheimer's disease

This morning saw an important step for the 9.9 million Europeans who suffer from Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, and the people that care for them, as MEPs voted on a new report focusing on these diseases.

Alzheimer's is the main cause of disability amongst the elderly. In today's ageing population this problem is only getting worse, with the worldwide rate of dementia set to double every twenty years. Alzheimer's can be an extremely distressing disease, especially for those closest to the patient who can feel they are slowly losing the person they love. It also tends to be the child or partner of the sufferer who takes on most of the caring responsibility, often giving up their job in order to care for their loved one full time.

Research into dementias is particularly fragmented across Europe, which is why the EU has launched the Joint Programming Initiative for countries to coordinate and share their research more easily. Hopefully the initiative will help researchers build on the promising breakthroughs in discovering the cause of Alzheimer's.

In the European Parliament we are calling for Alzheimer's and other dementias to be declared a European health priority and in this we have even garnered the support of José Mourinho. We have also called on the Commission to add the 'dementia dimension' into plans for future jobs and growth, creating vital jobs in the care sector. Personally I included amendments urging not only for research into new drugs and therapies, but also for funding research into diet and nutrition, which is increasingly being shown to be an important factor in the development of Alzheimer's disease. Tackling this huge problem will not be easy, but I am delighted that we are making some real progress at a European level.


  1. What I find disturbing is governments fail to recognize the impacts diseases such as this will have on our society and on our healthcare systems.

    Providing funding for research and care is paramount.

  2. I have also read several alarming reports into the links between nutrition, in particular the use of certain food additives/preservatives and Alzheimers. It's clear there needs to be a coordinated response and I commend you on that. What really scares me is the unknown and irreversable amount of damage already done on both my parents generation and my own generation and the knock-on effect that this will have an already over-streched and under-funded NHS.