Dementia latest ‘health priority area’
DEMENTIA is the latest and ninth national health priority area.
The first priority areas, set down in 1996, were cardiovascular health, cancer control, injury prevention and control, and mental health.
Diabetes was added in 1997, followed by asthma in 1999, arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions in 2002 and obesity in 2008.
Now, in 2012, dementia has been added to the list following a meeting of federal and state health ministers in Sydney.
That takes the number of priority areas to nine.
“This will focus attention and drive collaborative efforts aimed at tackling dementia at national, state and territory and local government levels,” the ministers says in a joint statement yesterday (Friday, August 10).
Some 280,000 Australians have dementia today, but that figure is expected to reach one million by 2050.
Ten years after that, spending on the disease is set to outstrip the outlay on any other health condition.
“We expect dementia spending to top $80 billion by 2062-63,” federal Ageing Minister Mark Butler says in a statement.
“But early diagnosis has been shown to have significant potential benefits for both the person with dementia and their carers and family, including improvements to quality of life and reducing care burden.”
Experts believe the number of sufferers could be significantly reduced by tackling risk factors such as physical inactivity, poor diet, alcohol misuse, smoking and excessive body weight.