European Institutions Commit To Making Dementia A European Priority In 2008
Main Category: Alzheimer's / Dementia News
Article Date: 09 Nov 2007 - 15:00 PST

During a lunch debate organised by Alzheimer Europe on 6 November 2007 and hosted by Françoise Grossetête, MEP (France), representatives of different European institutions gave their clearest signal to date that the fight against Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia would feature prominently in the plans of the European institutions in 2008.

Welcoming the launch of Alzheimer Europe's second "Dementia in Europe Yearbook" dedicated to a presentation of the social support provided by governments to people with Alzheimer's disease in different European countries, Vladimir Spidla, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities congratulated Alzheimer Europe on emphasising the social impact of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia on people diagnosed, as well as on their families and carers. He stressed the need for improved training of medical and care professionals, as well as of family carers in order to improve the care and support of people with dementia. In particular, he highlighted the importance of using the open method of coordination to exchange best practices in this field and to include the impact of Alzheimer's disease in future policies for the elderly and health care planning.

The Members of the European Parliament present at the launch all stressed the usefulness of the comparative information on the social support systems in Europe contained in the second Dementia in Europe Yearbook of Alzheimer Europe. Françoise Grossetête, chair of the European Alzheimer's Alliance summed up the discussions by commenting: "This second Yearbook shows the huge differences which exist between European countries and sometimes even within countries as to the services that exist, but equally as regards the support provided by governments to people with dementia and their carers. My colleagues and I are committed to making Alzheimer's disease and dementia European public health priorities and will dedicate a written declaration to this issue in 2008."

Jean-Baptiste Brunet, Health Attaché at the French Permanent Representation reiterated the commitment of the French government to the fight against Alzheimer's disease and the development of a comprehensive national Alzheimer's Plan. Furthermore, he announced the plans of the French Presidency to dedicate a European conference to Alzheimer's disease and extended a warm invitation to Alzheimer Europe to collaborate in this event.

Jean Georges, Executive Director of Alzheimer Europe stressed: "At this meeting, we heard the clearest signal yet that our campaign to make dementia a European public health priority is bearing fruit. It is encouraging to hear that Alzheimer's disease will figure prominently in the plans of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the French Presidency in 2008. Alzheimer Europe and its national member organisations are looking forward to collaborating with all three European institutions to make a difference for the 6.1 million Europeans living with a form of dementia."

Alzheimer Europe is the umbrella organisation of national Alzheimer associations and currently has 31 member organisations in 27 European countries. The mission statement of the organisation is to change perceptions, practice and policy to ensure equal access of people with dementia to a high level of care services and treatment options.

The Dementia in Europe Yearbook is a comparative report on the social support provided by governments to people with dementia and their carers in the 27 Member States of the European Union (with the exception of Cyprus, Slovakia and Slovenia) and Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. The information is the result of the "EuroCoDe - European Collaboration on Dementia" financed under the Public health programme of the European Commission. The report can be ordered online here.

Key findings:

- There are huge differences in the provision of services for people with dementia between the different European countries studied in our project and even sometimes within countries.

- Similarly, the level of support by governments varies considerably between European countries.

- The organisation of social support is often fragmented. Various government departments (health, social affairs and employment) are in charge of different aspects of social support and in some countries, social support is furthermore organised on a national, regional and local level.

- A multitude of service providers co-exist. Services can be run by the public, private and/or voluntary sector and very often quality indicators for the care of people with dementia are missing.

- Few specialised services exist which cater for the specific needs of people with dementia and their carers. Rather than being able to call on dementia-specific services, people with dementia and their carers therefore often have to rely on more general services primarily dedicated to elderly people or disabled people.

A considerable number of services were reported as being in a difficult financial situation due to the lack of secure and long term funding arrangements.

The European Alzheimer's Alliance is a multinational and cross-party group of Members of the European Parliament. Chair: Grossetête Françoise (France), Vice-Chairs: Crowley Brian (Ireland), Dickute Jolanta (Lithuania) and Muscat Joseph (Malta), Members: Battilocchio Alessandro (Italy), Bourzai Bernadette (France), Bowis John (United Kingdom), Cederschiold Charlotte (Sweden), Griesbeck Nathalie (France), Hall Fiona (United Kingdom), Hutchinson Alain (Belgium), Jaromir Kohlicek (Czech Republic), Raymond Langendries (Belgium), Lulling Astrid (Luxembourg), Masiel Jan Tadeusz (Poland), McGuinness Mairead (Ireland), Mikolasik Miroslav (Slovakia), Myller Riitta (Finland), Niebler Angelika (Germany), Panayotopoulos Marie (Greece), Rogalski Boguslaw (Poland), Roithova Zuzana (Czech Republic), Sinnott Kathy (Ireland), Stihler Catherine (United Kingdom), Ulmer Thomas (Germany), Virrankoski Kyösti (Finland), Weisgerber Anja (Germany), Willmott Glenis (United Kingdom), Wortmann-Kool Corien (Netherlands