Sat, Mar 23, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Alzheimer’s group calls for action as crisis looms

BROADER APPROACH:Lawmakers said the government has too narrow a focus on the disease, while it has been forecast that 4% of Taiwanese could be affected by 2056

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Tang Li-yu, secretary-general of the Taiwan Alzheimer’s Disease Association, front right, and other members of the association raise their clenched fists in determination at a press conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

The nation still lacks a proper national plan for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, the Taiwan Alzheimer’s Disease Association (TADA) said yesterday.

The association said the number of people in the nation with the disease has risen to about 200,000 this year and could reach 720,000 by 2056.

In advance of the 28th International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease, which is scheduled to be held in Taipei from April 18 through April 20, the association launched a petition urging the government to list the disease as a national health issue and to take its “Taiwan Dementia Plan” — a national strategy proposal addressing Alzheimer’s disease and its effects researched and recommended by TADA — seriously.

Association secretary-general Tang Li-yu (湯麗玉) said that as the country rapidly ages and the number of people with Alzheimer’s grows, it is estimated that there could be four Taiwanese in every hundred suffering dementia by 2056.

“The South Korean government recently started to address this problem, but we still don’t see any concrete progress from our own government,” Tang said.

TADA’s Taiwan Dementia Plan sets out some major goals concerning the four dimensions of prevention, treatment, care and protection, emphasizing the importance of a coordinated approach and an overhaul of current policy.

Five lawmakers from the two major parties were also present to sign the petition, and commented on the dire situation sufferers of the disease and the nation as a whole are facing.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chieh-ju (陳節如) said daycare centers for the elderly are not specialized enough to separate those with dementia from those with other problems, and the necessary funding from the central government for the establishment of specialized care centers is lacking.

More government campaigns to raise public awareness of the disease, its effects and possible treatments or methods of prevention are needed, DPP Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang Yu-hsin (楊玉欣) said.

Fu Chung-ling (傅中玲), a neurologist at Taipei Veterans General Hospital, said that possibly due to a lack of awareness, only about 30,000 people, out of the estimated 200,000 suffering dementia, have the government-issued handbook for people with disabilities.

DPP legislators Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) and Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said the government has been merely focusing, with little success, on the aspect of care for people with the disease, while what it should be doing is expanding its coverage to incorporate all four dimensions of the disease and set up a cross-ministry group to address the issue and address the impending Alzheimer’s crisis.

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