Over 400,000 people with dementia in Pakistan, says report

Our Correspondent
Friday, Sep 22, 2023

LAHORE:Around 55 million people worldwide are estimated to be living with the neurological condition out of which two-thirds of people still mistakenly believe it to be a normal part of ageing.

‘Every three seconds, somebody develops dementia. Currently, it is estimated that there are over 400,000 people with dementia in Pakistan,’ reveals the World Alzheimer’s Report 2023, titled ‘Reducing dementia risk: never too early, never too late’ has been launched by Alzheimer’s Pakistan and Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) in connection with World Alzheimer’s Day on Thursday.

The September 21, the World Alzheimer’s Day, marks an international campaign to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias globally.

The report focuses on dementia risk reduction as a practice, not a theory. The report draws on insights from approximately 90 high-profile researchers, healthcare professionals, policymakers and people living with dementia to help readers understand dementia risk in a holistic and easy-to-read way.

In 2020, The Lancet drew up a list of 12 proven modifiable dementia risk factors (smoking, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption, air pollution, head injury, infrequent social contact, less education, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, depression, and hearing impairment) which, if addressed, could delay, slow progression, or prevent up to 40 percent of dementia cases worldwide.

Dr Hussain Jafri, secretary general of Alzheimer’s Pakistan said research shows that individuals can develop dementia for decades before symptoms become apparent. However, reducing exposure to risk factors, both before and after a diagnosis, can delay, slow progression, or even prevent projected dementia cases. Therefore, it’s imperative that information and advice is clear and understandable, and that lifestyle changes are accessible and affordable for everyone. Despite recent advances in disease-modifying drugs, which have given hope to many people around the world that we may be inching ever closer towards finding a cure, we are still far from the goal of global, accessible, and affordable treatments for all types of dementia.

Alzheimer’s Pakistan and ADI’s message is clear: take ownership where you can over the 12 modifiable risk factors for dementia to manage your own personal dementia risk, and advocate for governmental intervention where individual behavioural changes cannot suffice.

‘It’s never too early, and never too late to take action to reduce your personal dementia risk,’ says Dr Jafri. ‘Risk reduction is a lifelong endeavour and most effective when awareness and understanding of brain health begins at a young age and continues after diagnosis.’