MEPs, NGOs and Commission officials met on Tuesday 1st April to discuss the growing threat of Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related conditions. The conference was hosted by London Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis. Marina is the European Conservatives’ health spokesman and a vice-president of the European Alzheimer’s Alliance.

Last year it was estimated around 44.4 million people suffer from dementia worldwide. This number will increase to nearly 75.6 million by 2030. With ageing populations across Europe, the need to find a treatment or cure for dementia has become critical.

Present at the event, Jean Georges of Alzheimer Europe said “not only do we need research into a cure for Alzheimer’s disease to give hope to future generations, but we need to find concrete solutions and approaches for the 8.7 million Europeans living with dementia today.”

Representatives from EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg’s cabinet and the Commission’s research and innovation department set out the aims of European legislators in this area for the coming five years. It has become clear that more work needs to be done by EU institutions to ensure real progress is made in fighting the illnesses.

Marina said “it is vital we ensure Alzheimer remains a top priority in the next parliamentary term- we must also ensure the new Commission Presidency places this issue at the top of its agenda. This problem is getting worse, there is still so much more research to do and Member States need to ensure they have effective strategies in place for dealing with dementia”.

Alzheimer’s organisations from the UK also attended the conference- Alison Cook of the Alzheimer’s Society and Matthew Norton of Alzheimer’s Research shared their expertise with attendees.

Alison Cook commented that “Dementia is the biggest health and social care challenge of this generation. With the number of people with dementia in Western Europe set to double by 2050, collaboration amongst European Member States is vital as we take long-term steps to combat the condition through research and better care.”

Speaking after, Dr Norton said “This necessary and timely event facilitated an excellent discussion on the progress of research to date and offered a number of new ideas to better coordinate the research effort across European Member States.”

There are currently around 800,000 people in the UK suffering from dementia and this is set to increase to over 1 million by 2021.