A National Consultative Meeting of experts to develop a National Dementia Strategy was held at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi on 30th–31st Jan. 2009. This meeting was organized by Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI) in association with the Centre for Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, Jamia Milia Islamia. ARDSI is a national voluntary organization dedicated to the care, support, and research of dementia.
With world’s second largest elderly population, millions of people are affected by Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementias in India . This number shall go up with increasing life expectancy. With the vast changes taking place in our society, like nuclearisation of families, migration of younger people, globalization, changing values have all put tremendous pressure on the care of elderly especially those with chronic conditions such as dementia.
Alzheimer’s Disease is a chronic degenerative disease of the brain which manifests with loss of memory, intellectual decline and often behavioural problems. Despite the large number of affected people, there is gross ignorance and neglect of the disease. Most people with dementia go un-detected. Often there is stigma attached to this condition. In some cases they even undergo abuse. There are hardly any services available for the victims and their care givers.
This meeting was beginning of an exercise that will go on for the next one year to develop a strategy to transform the present situation of neglect and promote good dementia care over the next five years. This consultation shall draw evidence from wide range of reports and stakeholders. All those who are interested in improving the care of dementia victims are invited to give their inputs. Three key themes of this exercise area:
1. Improve awareness about dementia both among general public and health professionals.
2. Encourage early diagnosis for early intervention
3. Improve quality of care of those affected and their care-givers.
This meeting was attended by the Hon. Vice Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia, Prof. Mushirul Hasan (as guest of honour), officials from Ministry of Health, Social Justice and Empowerment, ICMR, WHO, Service organizations, professional bodies and chapters of ARDSI. Dr. Vijay Chandra, Mental Health Advisor, WHO SEARO, Dr. A.B. Dey, AIIMS, Dr. Vinod Kumar, Geriatrician, Dr. Bela Shah-DG, ICMR, Dr. Purnima Singh, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Dr. S.P. Agarwal, Secretary General, Indian Red Cross Society, Past Rotary National Director O.P. Vaish, Dr. Mathew Varghese, NIMHANS, Bangalore, Dr. Manoj Jacob ARDSI Cochin, Nilanjana Maulik ARDSI Kolkata chapter, Mr. Mathew Cherian and Mr. M.M. Sabharwal, HelpAge India, Ms. Avantika Gosh, Dr. Suvarna Alladi, NIMS, Hyderabad, Dr. K.S. Anand, are the main resource persons. Sailesh Mishra from Silver Inning Foundation and Mumbai ARDSI was also present for this historic meeting. Meetings is expected to draw experts from across the country, as told by Dr. K. Jacob Roy, National Chairman, ARDSI, Mrs. Nirmala Narula, Vice Chairperson ARDSI, Shri. S.N. Kuckreja, Vice President, New Delhi Chapter, Col. Khanna, Executive Director, Delhi Chapter.