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Include dementia in India’s national health programme: Experts

New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) Medical experts have demanded the inclusion of dementia in India’s national health programme as the country has the world’s second largest elderly population, of which 3 million suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.

Members of Alzheimer’s and Related Disorder’s Society of India (ARDSI), an NGO working to provide care and spread awareness about the disease, will also meet President Pratibha Patil later Tuesday and demand support for framing a national dementia strategy for India.

Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic degenerative disease of the brain, which manifests itself with memory loss, intellectual decline and often behavioural problems.

“Despite the vast number of people living with dementia in the country, there is gross neglect and ignorance. We are lobbying with the health ministry to include dementia in the national health programme so that people suffering from the disease get proper care,” K. Jacob Roy, a doctor here, said late Monday.

“We want that a dedicated plan is carved out to improve general awareness about dementia both among the general public and medicos. We also want to encourage early diagnosis and improve the quality of care to people affected with the disease,” A. Murthy, a psychiatrist with ARDSI, said.

ARDSI is also working on a Dementia India Document, a guide providing details about how to address the problems of people suffering from the disease.

“The society has decided to train school and college students in the art of giving care to dementia patients. Our aim is to raise a workforce of youngsters working for our ageing population and provide them with love and care,” said Roy.

According to the World Alzheimer’s Report released on World Alzheimer’s Day Monday, the number of people living with dementia in India will be over 9 million by 2050.