The State Government will soon come up with a comprehensive scheme for the care and treatment of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, announced Health Minister V S Sivakumar said.
He was inaugurating the World Alzheimer’s Day seminar organised by the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) in association with Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) United Kingdom and Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI), here on Friday.
“While we do not have any specific programmes dedicated to the cause of this disease for which no cure has been found so far, it is included under the provisions of the National Programme for the Healthcare for the Elderly, currently functioning in five districts in the state, where exclusive clinics tend to the elderly in Primary Health Centres, Community Health Centres and District Hospitals,” said the Minister.
“But we will also soon prepare a package scheme specifically to meet the needs for caring of those with Alzheimer’s, after due consultation with experts,” he said.
A new case of dementia arises every seven seconds in the world according to several scientific estimates and the number of persons suffering from dementia is expected to touch 66 million by 2030, said K Jacob Roy, chairman ADI.
In 2010 there were an estimated 3.7 million people in India suffering from dementia, according to ARDSI’s Dementia India Report, he said. The figure is expected to be more than 7.7 million by 2030.
There is a lot of underestimation because of the hidden nature of the disease.
“Often we dismiss the symptoms such as forgetfulness and inability to make decisions, which happens in early stages of dementia, as the natural process of ageing,” he said. It is only in the later stages of the disease, when we see the person become completely dependent on others, that we realise what is going on. “Alzheimer’s is a family disease because the whole family is affected when they have to watch a loved one become so helpless like that,” Roy said.
Of the 36 million people suffering from the disease worldwide, 28 million do not receive proper attention according to the World Alzheimer’s Report 2011, said Roy.
“Kerala presently has an estimated 1.5 lakh people with Alzheimer’s which is likely to exceed 2.12 lakh in another 10 years. What is needed now is for the government to undertake a Kerala-specific study on dementia. They could also set up memory clinics in every district,” he said.
Two reports - ‘World Alzheimer’s Report on Reducing Stigma’ and ‘Dementia India Report’ prepared by the ARDSI - were launched at the event. K Muraleedharan MLA, was also present.