Winning The Global Battle Against Alzheimer’s

Today’s guest post is from Patrik Jonsson. Patrik is the President and General Manager of Lilly Japan.

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness and Family Caregivers Month in the United States. While this is a month that was first recognized by one of the world’s most recognizable faces of Alzheimer’s, former President Ronald Reagan, the truth is that the challenge of this disease goes beyond geographic borders. Nearly 47 million people around the world (4.7 million in Japan) live with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, making it one of the most significant public health challenges.

Compounding the situation, it is projected that the number of people living with dementia will grow to nearly 75 million people (7 million in Japan) in less than 15 years and the majority will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, putting additional strain on health systems and economies around the world. But a global community of scientists, academics, industry, government officials, and advocates is taking steps to stop this tide from rising.

We need this not just because of the strain on our economies, but also because of the personal wreckage that this terrible disease leaves on our families and our communities. Our memories are ripped from us, we are denied the company and support of our loved ones and we lose the benefit of learning from those who have the most to teach us.  

During World Alzheimer’s Month, Kobe, Japan hosted the G7 Health Ministers’ meeting. The meeting brought together leaders from around the world to discuss system readiness, universal health coverage and healthy living, especially in ageing societies. While dementia was not the main topic for the health ministers’ meeting, there was focused discussion on ageing, health and the need for earlier diagnosis and management of dementia.

As world leaders pursue policy solutions impacting the global community, we will play our part through public-private partnership and on-going conversation with the policymakers, advocates, researchers, patients and caregivers to make Alzheimer’s disease preventable. We hope to create a society friendly to people suffering from and being impacted by dementia.

With the world’s ageing population increasing, this health crisis will only become more serious, putting an enormous burden on caregivers and costing countries around the world billions of dollars a year. If we fail to act now, the disease could cripple health care systems and devastate families for years to come. 

The future of fighting Alzheimer’s will require more action from stakeholders and decision makers on the global stage. The world needs to recognize the emerging science and improve access to the tools and technologies that address all stages of Alzheimer’s. Only then can we meet the global community’s ambitious goal - to prevent or effectively treat Alzheimer’s by 2025.

Our collective impact will make a difference and by working together with the right mix of innovation in the lab and policy changes around the world, we are confident that we can #EndALZ. 

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