LAHORE:September 21 marks World Alzheimer’s Day, an international campaign to raise awareness and challenge stigma. To commemorate World Alzheimer’s Day, Alzheimer’s Pakistan in collaboration with Government College University (GCU) organised a seminar on Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementias.
The theme of this year’s World Alzheimer’s Day is ‘Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer’s,’ which focuses on diagnosis, the warning signs of dementia, the continued effect of COVID-19 on the global dementia community and more. Dementia is a collective name for progressive degenerative brain syndromes which affect memory, thinking, behavior 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 GCU Vice-Chancellor Dr Asghar Zaidi. Dr Athar Javid gave an overview of Dementia and highlighted that the number of people living with dementia (PWD) around the world is expected to almost double every 20 years, reaching 152 million by 2050, if effective risk-reduction strategies are not implemented worldwide. Dr Ali Hashmi 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.
Prof Dr Asghar Zaidi presented the report of an international qualitative research conducted in Pakistan titled “Understanding, Beliefs and Treatment of Dementia in Pakistan”. He commented that “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.” Dr Zaidi announced the establishment of GC Dementia Society that will works towards creating mass awareness. Moreover, the society will also run monthly respite meetings and training session for caregivers of people with Dementia. The students of GC Dramatic Society also presented a short drama on Alzheimer’s disease.
Speaking at the occasion, Dr Hussain Jafri, secretary general, Alzheimer’s Pakistan said that that there are around 400,000 dementia patients in Pakistan and this number will rise to 1.4 million by 2025. The increase in the number of PWD in Pakistan is alarming and it is time that we initiate the much needed healthcare services for the elderly in the province. He informed that the Punjab government was currently working towards launching a comprehensive dementia plan for the province through which a range of services shall be provided such as hospital based memory clinics, resource mobilisation for early diagnosis & treatment, counselling services to caregivers and mass awareness.An awareness walk was also organised at the end of the seminar.