Charity calls on government to commit 1% of annual cost of dementia to research

Alzheimer’s Research UK, one of the top dementia research funders in the world, is calling on the UK government to adopt a bold new action plan to bring about a life-changing dementia treatment and improve the lives of people with the condition. The charity is urging government to commit to spending just 1% of the annual cost of dementia on research into the condition by 2025 to transform research efforts.

The call comes as the charity launches its new Make Breakthroughs Possible campaign and pledges to commit a further £250m to dementia research by 2025.

Dementia is the leading cause of death across the UK and the number of people living with the condition is expected to grow to 1 million in just three years. Alzheimer’s Research UK’s new report, “No time to lose: An action plan for dementia,” is designed to catalyse change in the way dementia is treated and the impact it has on lives of people with the condition.

The plan sets out five clear actions for government:

  1. Commit 1% of the annual cost of dementia to research.
  2. Double the number of scientists and volunteers taking part in dementia research.
  3. Work to detect the diseases that cause dementia before symptoms appear.
  4. Increase awareness of how people can reduce their risk.
  5. Prepare now for future treatments so they reach people quickly.

The leading action outlined in the plan is to increase financial support for dementia research in line with other major health conditions. Currently, only 0.3% of the cost of dementia is put towards researching the condition compared to 1.6% put towards cancer research. Increasing funding for dementia research to just 1% of the cost of the condition would accelerate breakthroughs similar to those made in conditions like cancer in recent decades, which have already transformed thousands of lives.

Part of this additional funding would support efforts to revolutionise the way dementia is detected, moving towards a goal of detecting the diseases that cause dementia 10 to 15 years before symptoms appear.

Based on clinical trials now underway, experts believe future treatments are likely to be most effective when given at the earliest stages of disease. We must prepare now by radically changing the way we detect and diagnose the diseases that cause dementia so future treatments can have the greatest impact on the people who could benefit from them.

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“Dementia is the health crisis of our time. With no way to stop or slow the diseases that cause it, no-one has yet survived dementia but we hope to change that.

“We’ve seen progress in recent years thanks to the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia launched in 2012, but without renewed government priority given to dementia, this momentum risks being lost. Dementia has been conspicuously absent from priorities set for the health system in recent months, and we cannot afford to let the condition slip off the radar at this critical time.

“We must see government ensure dementia is a leading health priority and begin to push for the progress seen in the treatment of diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS over recent decades. Spending just 1% of the cost of dementia on research would make breakthroughs possible, and the thousands of families across the UK who are feeling the impact of dementia deserve nothing less.”

The report can be read in full at: alzheimersresearchuk.org/actionplan

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