The Obama Administration said that not only is most of the public aware of Alzheimer’s disease, the mental disorder is also “one of the most feared health conditions” on Wednesday as it revealed the first draft of a comprehensive new national strategy to effectively treat and care for patients or patients’ families affected by this mind-destroying disease.
Around 5.1 million Americans are already affected by Alzheimer’s or other similar dementias, and the administration said that that number is expected to double every 5 years, is expected to reach up to 16 million by 2050, which will put tremendous strains on caregivers and on health and long-term care systems.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which issued the draft plan, sets effective prevention and treatment methods by 2025 as a top priority, but it also focuses on optimizing care quality and enhancing support for Alzheimer’s patient families and caregivers.
"Alzheimer's disease burdens an increasing number of our nation's elders and their families, and it is essential that we confront the challenge it poses to our public health," President Barack Obama said in the introduction section of the draft.
Earlier this month, the administration announced that it would give an additional $50 million this year from HHS projects to Alzheimer's research, and plans to add an additional $80 million in new research funding in fiscal 2013.
“These investments will open new opportunities in Alzheimer’s disease research and jumpstart efforts to reach the 2025 goal,” HHS said in the new draft document.
The plan also includes an additional $26 million in spending on programs aimed at supporting public awareness and people who care for Alzheimer's patients.
Wednesday draft of the National Plan will be submitted to the government’s Alzheimer’s advisory council for consideration and input, and will also be open for public comment though March, before a final strategy will be issued later this year.
The National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health is bringing together Alzheimer’s experts in May to discuss public and private research collaborations to find the most promising leads for better treatment and to establish strategies and milestones to improve the national plan.
Some of the members from the government’s Alzheimer’s advisory council said that Wednesday’s draft is a good first step.
“Today, with the strong commitment of federal leaders and louder outcry from the public, the urgency of the Alzheimer’s disease crisis is being recognized and acted upon. There is no doubt that this is the ‘moment’ for Alzheimer’s disease. All Americans are anxiously waiting for this moment to transform into a monumental life-changer for families affected by Alzheimer’s disease now and in the future,” said Eric J. Hall, president of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America in a statement released yesterday following the unveiling of the national plan.
“The Alzheimer's Association values the initial plan's attention to evaluation and assessment but looks forward to moving quickly from assessment of current efforts and programs to action for the growing number of families facing the disease,” the Alzheimer’s Association said in a statement.
“As this draft plan is revised, the Alzheimer's Association urges the administration to specify the level of resource commitment that will be needed to meet the goal to prevent and effectively treat the disease by 2025,” the association added.