Howard Drake

Howard Drake

British High Commissioner to Canada

Part of UK in Canada

25th June 2014 Ottawa, Canada

Fighting a ‘quiet crisis’

Dementia is a top priority for the UK and Canada.

Today, more than 40 million people worldwide are living with dementia and, with ageing populations this number is set to double every 20 years. The economic costs of this are astonishing, with US$604 B spent in 2010 alone (of which  approximately 70 per cent was spent in Western Europe and North America).

To respond to this urgent issue, the UK Dementia Challenge was launched in March 2012 by Prime Minister David Cameron. During his speech at the Alzheimer Society Conference, he said that: “One of the greatest challenges of our time is what I’d call the quiet crisis, one that steals lives and tears at the hearts of families, but that relative to its impact is hardly acknowledged. We’ve got to treat this like the national crisis it is. We need an all-out fight-back against this disease; one that cuts across society.”

The G8 Dementia Summit was held in December 2013 in London with the unique contribution of health ministers from participating countries. With this event, the UK succeeded placing dementia firmly on the priority list of leading world governments; as an important outcome, the G8 countries agreed to share their resources to find a treatment for dementia by 2025.

The first Legacy event took place in London on June 19, while the next event will be taking place in Ottawa in September, followed by Japan in the fall and the USA in early 2015.

The June event in London invited world health and finance international leaders in London to address challenges and solutions to find a cure for dementia. Discussions helped to identify barriers to investment in dementia treatment research as well as explore different pathways to increase these investments.

The Prime Minister called for immediate action to address a market failure on dementia research and drug development. He also highlighted that if the same amount of effort and money invested in cancer would be invested in dementia, we may achieve similar outstanding results. To this end, the UK’s Medial Research Council announced a £16 M Dementia Research Platform with 2 million participants, and Alzheimer’s Research UK launched a new £100 M “Defeat Dementia” campaign.

In April, the World Dementia Council (WDC) was launched in London under the leadership of the World Dementia Envoy, Dennis Gillings. Together with 13 senior international experts from the G7, they will engage with the global pharmaceutical sector to develop new drug therapies. The WDC will create strategies to address six priorities:  Finance, Research Collaboration, Regulation and Trials, Sharing Knowledge, Health and Care, and Awareness. Yves Joanette, scientific director of CIHR Institute for Ageing, is part of the WDC and is also co-leading on the Legacy event in Ottawa together with France.

About Howard Drake

Howard Drake has served as High Commissioner since June 2013.