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September 22, 2020

‘Over one million dementia patients in Pakistan’

Lahore

September 22, 2020

LAHORE:The World Alzheimer’s Day was observed around the world including Pakistan on Monday under this year’s theme “Let’s talk about dementia” as part of international campaign to raise awareness and challenge the stigma.

In this regard, Minar-e-Pakistan was illuminated in red colour on Monday night to create awareness about Alzheimer's disease and dementias amongst the masses. To commemorate World Alzheimer’s Day, Alzheimer’s Pakistan in collaboration with Government College University, Lahore (GCU) organised a seminar on Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementias at GCU Auditorium.

The World Alzheimer’s Day under this year’s theme “Let’s talk about dementia” looks to increase awareness and to tackle the stigma that still surrounds dementia globally and prevents people seeking out the information, advice, support and help that they need. Dementia is a collective name for progressive degenerative brain syndromes which affect memory, thinking, behaviour and emotion. The chemistry of the brain changes and cells, nerves and transmitters are attacked. Eventually the brain shrinks as gaps develop. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.

The seminar started with a welcome address by Prof Asghar Zaidi, Vice Chancellor, GCU. Prof Dr Ather Javed gave an overview of dementia and highlighted the issues related to diagnosis and management of dementia patients. Dr Ali Hashmi presented about the psychiatric issues faced by the families with dementia patients. Dr Salma Hassan highlighted the psychological interventions for dementia families.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Hussain Jafri, secretary general, Alzheimer’s Pakistan said that dementia mainly affects people over the age of 65 years. The rapid increase in number of PWD shows that the world is aging fast, resulting in having huge global impact of dementia on societies globally. There are around one million PWD in Pakistan, however, there are no services provided by the government. He highlighted that the Pakistan is a signatory to World Health Organization’s global plan on dementia thus putting the responsibility of increasing awareness, detection, treatment and care of dementia on the government.

Prof Dr Asghar Zaidi, Vice Chancellor, GCU presented on the research report of an international qualitative research conducted in Pakistan titled ‘Understanding, Beliefs and Treatment of Dementia in Pakistan’. He commented, “Dementia is a global health priority, but progress towards its understanding and treatment in low and middle-income countries has been slow, despite rapidly ageing populations. We hope this report will inform policymakers in Pakistan and across South Asia – helping to improve the lives of people with the disease and their caregivers.”

Speaking on occasion, Dr Yasmin Rashid, Minister of Health, Punjab said increase in the number of PWD is alarming and it is time that ‘we initiate the much needed healthcare services for the elderly in the province including the PWD’. She announced that that the Punjab Health Department shall soon launch the provincial dementia plan. Under this plan, a range of services shall be provided such as hospital based memory clinics, resource mobilisation for early diagnosis and treatment, counselling services to caregivers and mass awareness.

Moreover, a provincial dementia committee has been established by the Health Department Punjab, which is currently making working towards establishing registry of people with Dementia at all the hospitals.