22 September 2009 A new report commissioned by Alzheimer Disease International (ADI), the global umbrella organization of national Alzheimer associations, makes for easy and captivating reading while on call or while the computer is crunching experimental data. Whether toiling at the bedside or the bench, clinicians and researchers around the world rarely get the benefit of a sweeping big-picture view of what the disease they are fighting is up to around the globe, and how it will likely change in different regions of the world in coming decades.
The report came out on World Alzheimer’s Day on September 21, amidst publicity events aimed at raising Alzheimer disease awareness among the general publics and health and government communities around the world. The U.S. Alzheimer’s Association observed the day with a series of appearances on national media and a celebrities campaign, see In the News.
The World Alzheimer Report 2009 presents updated prevalence data for AD, estimating that about 35 million people are living with dementia now and that this number will nearly double every 20 years, to 65 million in 2030. This represents an increase over previous estimates (see related news story on Ferri et al., 2005; see also related news story on Rodriguez et al., 2008). One alarming aspect the report emphasizes is that a majority of people with dementia lives in low- and middle-income countries, where the proportionate increase in prevalence is predicted to outpace that in wealthy countries. The report further chronicles the impact of dementia on carers and societies around the world, and highlights some recent government initiatives to make Alzheimer disease a national priority, for example in England, France, Australia and South Korea. The report, along with supporting documentation and data files for those who wish to dig deeper, is freely available for download. —Gabrielle Strobel