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G8 health experts reach agreement on dementia

Picture of Jeremy Hunt for Your Expert Witness storyOn 11 December leaders of health services and scientists from the world’s leading economies met in London to discuss a co-ordinated approach to combat dementia – the first G8 summit on a specific illness since HIV. The summit was called by the UK as part of its G8 presidency and saw agreement on a package of measures to tackle the growing global health, social and economic crisis of dementia. Currently 36 million people across the world have the condition and the World Health Organisation predicts that numbers will nearly double every two decades.

Speaking at the Summit, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “It doesn’t matter whether you’re in London or Los Angeles, in rural India or urban Japan – dementia steals lives; it wrecks families, it breaks hearts and that is why all of us here are so utterly determined to beat it.

“In generations past, the world came together to take on the great killers. We stood against malaria, cancer, HIV and AIDS and we are just as resolute today. I want 11 December 2013 to go down as the day that the global fight-back began.”

RAAs a result of the summit on dementia, the participant countries agreed to:

• Set an ambition to identify a cure or a disease-modifying therapy for dementia by 2025 – backed by a commitment to together significantly increase the amount spent on dementia research and increase the number of people involved in clinical trials and studies on dementia

•Establish a new Global Envoy for Dementia Innovation, following in the footsteps of global envoys on HIV and AIDS and on climate change. The Global Envoy will bring together international expertise to stimulate innovation and co-ordinate international efforts to attract new sources of finance, including exploring the possibility of a new private and philanthropic fund to support global dementia innovation

• Develop an international action plan for research – in particular to identify current gaps and how to fill them

• Share information and data from dementia research studies across the G8 countries to work together and get the best return on investment in research

• Encourage open access to all publicly-funded dementia research to make data and results available for further research as quickly as possible.

In a précis of the communique issued after the summit, the Department of Health said that greater investment in research, focusing research where there is more to learn and greater sharing of data will mean everyone understands more and can move towards better treatment and cures – in the same way that medicine has made great strides in tackling diseases like HIV and cancer.

However, simply increasing spending on dementia research will not be enough, which is why there will be an action plan on how the G8 countries will work together to fill the gaps and opportunities in dementia research with the ultimate aim of finding a cure or disease-modifying treatment by 2025.

In his closing address, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) pointed to the cost of dementia globally: an ‘astounding’ $604bn or about one per cent of the world’s GDP.

However, he said, it isn’t just an economic problem – the impact the disease has on those diagnosed with dementia and on their families, their carers and their friends cannot be measured.

Dr Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organisation, said:

“WHO warmly welcomes the aims and outcomes of this summit, with its ground-breaking proposals to stimulate research and development to catch up with a runaway human tragedy. WHO’s priority will be to help countries, especially in the developing world, cope with their rapidly ageing populations and escalating numbers of people with dementia.”

The participant countries will come together throughout 2014 to build on the commitments agreed at the summit. In March the UK will hold an event on how to get greater investment and finance in innovative care. This will be followed by an event in Japan on what new care and prevention models could look like and an event hosted by Canada and France on industry partnerships between academe and industry. The G8 countries will then meet in the US in February 2015 with other global experts, including WHO and OECD, to review the progress that has been made on this research agenda.

Last Updated on Monday, 20 January 2014 12:25

Doctors warn against annual refreshment of NHS mandate

Picture of Dr Mark Porter for Your Expert Witness storyThe BMA has warned that refreshing the NHS mandate with new policy initiatives every year could make it unachievable. The association said it supports the principles behind the recent update, which include improvements for older people’s care and mental health but is concerned about the “ever-changing goalposts”.

Created as part of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, the mandate sets out the government’s ambitions for the NHS and the funding available for the work, and must be refreshed annually. The updated mandate for 2014/15 includes a plan to develop care for vulnerable older people and those with complex needs.

BMA council chair Mark Porter (pictured) said the NHS mandate provided an “encouraging vision”, but success would depend upon having fewer and more strategic objectives and how that was implemented.

Last Updated on Monday, 18 November 2013 12:55

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New initiatives will progress the battle against cancer

Picture of a tumour for Your Expert Witness storyOn 28 September the Prime Minister announced that an additional £400m investment in the Cancer Drugs Fund will allow thousands more cancer patients in England to gain access to life-extending drugs recommend by their clinicians and medical experts.

More than 34,000 patients have benefitted from the Cancer Drugs Fund since it was created in 2010. The Fund is now confirmed for an extra two years until March 2016. The extension will allow new patients to benefit and guarantee that those currently receiving drugs will continue to get them. The new money means the amount committed will top £1bn in total.

Last Updated on Monday, 30 September 2013 10:33

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UK to host first dementia ‘summit’

Photo of Jeremy Hunt for Your Expert witness storyThe UK will be hosting the first ‘G8 Dementia Summit’ in December this year. David Cameron and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will be using the UK’s presidency of the G8 this year to take the lead in taking global action against what is fast becoming one of the greatest pressures on families, carers and health systems around the world.

In the UK alone, there are likely to be nearly a million people with the condition by the end of 2020. Now the government is looking to spark a worldwide effort by inviting health ministers from G8 countries to a summit in London on 11 December to discuss how they can co-ordinate efforts and shape an effective international solution to dementia. This includes looking for effective therapies and responses to slow dementia’s impact.

The summit will aim to identify and agree a new international approach to dementia research, to help break down barriers within and between companies, researchers and clinicians and secure a new level of co-operation needed to reach shared goals faster than nations acting alone.

It will draw on the expertise and experience of the OECD, WHO, industry, national research organisations, key opinion leaders, researchers and physicians.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Globally there is a new case of dementia every four seconds, and by 2020 we will see nearly 70 million people living with the condition.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 September 2013 08:55

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Extra cash will boost health research expertise

Picture of pills for Your Expert Witness storyThe Government has announced increased funding to tackle “the nation’s most pressing health problems”.

On 9 August Health Minister Lord Howe announced an investment of £124m from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) into treatments and techniques which could revolutionise future health care.

Experts from 13 research teams across the country are expected to spend the next five years working on ground-breaking projects.

The research that will be supported includes work to reduce the risk of dementia through exercise as well as strategies to improve the nutrition and health of those who have already been diagnosed.

Long terms conditions is another key area, the announcement said. Some research teams will be exploring ways to improve the diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), while others will be looking at better aftercare for stroke patients. There will also be research to help prevent at-risk groups from developing diabetes.

Some of the projects will be aiming aim to reduce pressures on A&E and include trying to cut down admissions in children under five and people with long-term conditions.

Last Updated on Monday, 12 August 2013 16:11

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