How can/will low income countries copes with the emerging burden of dementia?

Amidst the global, explosive increase in the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the past decade, the social and economic impact of the deluge of persons living with dementia really can’t be overstated. Dementia can effect persons who would still be working and productive. But even when the oldest old are effected, in lower income settings, the care for these individuals is largely provided by the family with minimal social supports from the public sector.

As a result, dementia substantially impacts economic productivity in prime age adults, The magnitude of the impact really behooves us to consider novel approaches to improve care from a biomedical perspective while fully considering the economic realities and imperative to concurrently address these.

In this week’s edition of Neurology, Thaver and Ahmad provide an overview of approaches being considered in Pakistan. As the 6th most populated country and with a graying population, solutions that are being discussed include health insurance schemes to decrease cost and burden on family, the training of a cadre of home healthcare workers and the potential for increased options for institutionalized care.

Gretchen L. Birbeck, MD, MPH

Gretchen L. Birbeck, MD, MPH

Gretchen Birbeck is a neurologist who divides her time between the US and Africa. Her US academic home is the University of Rochester where she is the Rykenboer Professor of Neurology and Research Director for the Strong Epilepsy Center with adjunct appointments in the Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics and the Department of Public Health. Her additional skills in epidemiology, health services research, and tropical medicine are brought to bear during the 6-months annually she spends in Africa where she serves as Director for the Chikankata Epilepsy Care Team in rural Mazabuka, Zambia, an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Zambia and a consultant for the Paediatric Research Ward at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. Gretchen’s research programs are aimed at identifying opportunities to prevent or ameliorate the medical and social morbidities of common neurologic conditions in low-income, tropical settings with the ultimate goal of developing successful interventions feasible for scale up and broad implementation. She has been recognized as an Ambassador for Epilepsy by the International League against Epilepsy, a Global Health Research Ambassador by the US Paul Rogers Society, a National Outreach Scholar by the WK Kellogg Foundation and a Leader in Medicine by the American Medical Students Association.

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