As the aging population continues to grow, health systems in the EU and beyond are facing a significant challenge in providing timely diagnosis and innovative treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. Early intervention is crucial in slowing the memory decline associated with the disease. However, without adequate healthcare infrastructure in place, the opportunity to delay and prevent distressing symptoms for patients and families may be missed.
The EU and its member countries have an opportunity to lead in this space by increasing funding for research, improving healthcare infrastructure, and enhancing support services at a national and regional level. The forthcoming European Parliament elections in June 2024 provide an ideal opportunity to make these commitments and invest in future health.
Alzheimer’s disease is a growing concern in Europe, with approximately 7 million people currently affected, a number set to double by 2050. The financial and social implications of the disease are substantial, with projected costs reaching €250 billion by 2030. These costs place a significant burden on healthcare systems that are already struggling with capacity and cost issues.
Timely diagnosis is crucial in determining appropriate treatment for patients. MEP Deirdre Clune argues that the EU must create a strategic framework to lay out clear recommendations for national governments, recognizing the toll of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease on European societies. A comprehensive EU Beating Dementia Plan is needed to address the unique challenges posed by Alzheimer’s.
EU member countries must commit to investing in diagnostic infrastructure, technology, and integrated care that can detect Alzheimer’s disease at an early stage and ensure timely intervention. While action at the EU level is necessary, significant opportunities also exist at the national and regional levels. Italy, for example, has launched a Parliamentary Intergroup for Neuroscience and Alzheimer’s, focusing on raising awareness, promoting research, and improving diagnostic and care pathways.
International collaboration is essential in addressing the growing burden of Alzheimer’s disease. The May G7 Hiroshima Leaders’ Communiqué and the G7 health ministers’ joint Communiqué have recognized and supported dementia as a freestanding issue, emphasizing the need for early detection and interventions. EU countries must assume a leading voice within international fora to ensure that Alzheimer’s disease remains a global healthcare priority.
In September, during World Alzheimer’s Month, discussions on country- and regional-level strategies should focus on strengthening diagnostic infrastructure and services for Alzheimer’s disease prevention, diagnosis, management, monitoring, and treatment. Taking action now is crucial to prevent a future generation from suffering the consequences of this devastating disease.
Sources: European Brain Council, EFPIA’s RETHINKING Alzheimer’s disease White Paper