Dementia research funding is set to double in the United Kingdom by 2015, the BBC reports.
David Cameron will soon announce his plans to rev up research on the subject by increasing funding to £66 million ($100 million) in the next three years. In a speech, the Prime Minister is expected to outline his plans for research into both cures and treatments and the health care systems in place to respond to the disease.
Dementia, which is characterized by a loss of brain function that disturbs memory, language and behavior, affects 800,000 people in the UK at an estimated cost of £23 billion to the country.
In the United States, it is estimated that 5 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s or related dementias and that with an aging population, the number will double by 2050.
“Dementia is simply a terrible disease. And it is a scandal that we as a country haven’t kept pace with it,” Cameron is set to say. “My argument today is that we’ve got to treat this like the national crisis it is. We need an all-out fightback against this disease, one that cuts across society.”
The Prime Minister will point out that the economic costs of the disease are already higher than those of cancer, heart disease or stroke.
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, applauded Cameron’s plan as an “unprecedented step” in making the UK a world leader in dementia research.
“Doubling funding for research, tackling diagnosis and calling for a radical shift in the way we talk, think and act on dementia will help to transform lives,” he said. “There are currently 800,000 people with dementia, yet too many are not able to live well with the condition. The PM is leading the way, but from Plymouth to Preston, from the boardroom to bus drivers, we all have a role to play.”