Sweden launches a National Dementia Strategy
On May 24, 2018, the Swedish government launched a national dementia strategy with the aim to improve the care of people with dementia. I am very pleased that the Swedish government now has a national agenda for dementia. However, this strategy is not sufficient:
Prof. Bengt Winblad
Chair of the European Alzheimer’s Disease Consortium (EADC)
Prof Gunhild Waldemar (GW): Prof. Winblad, from EADC’s point of view, how is the research into dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease in particular, highlighted or addressed in the Swedish national dementia strategy launched so recently? Will it positively influence the ongoing research?
Prof. Bengt Winblad (BW): Sweden launched a ”National Dementia Strategy” May 24, 2018. A general disappointment was that one of the countries leading much of research in care, epidemiology, clinical and basic research did not even produce a Dementia Plan like the other Scandinavian countries and most other EU countries. There are only two other European countries who have come up with only a strategy (Portugal and Bulgaria). Sweden has all the infrastructure to present a research plan that could deliver important contributions, progress in research covering all areas of dementia research if the government wants to show their intention. All needed facts have been made available to present a longterm plan with tangible proposals to strengthen/intensify research in areas covering the whole disease spectrum. These even could be pure research areas, implementation and development projects. Swedish dementia research certainly also needs a coordination and a center for dissemination of knowledge. The Swedish Strategy must be followed by a Plan with a precise budget per year and precise milestones where progress can be checked by independent organisations.
In the strategy they have misplaced a programme for Life Sciences. Without basic and clinical research you can start as many Life Sciences offices and companies you want but they will have no data to work on. Good examples how to stimulate research could be taken from the research plans in the national plans of US and the Netherlands. By that, US takes over all drug industries and biotech companies, at least from our country. A total goal-directed research budget of 250 million SEK per year for 5 years would keep Swedish dementia research alive. This is a small investment in research when the total societal costs in Sweden for dementia care is estimated to 70 billion SEK per year.
GW: How can national action plans on dementia strengthen cross-disciplinary research in dementia at the European level ?
BW: A strong national dementia plan on cross–disciplinary research shows that the government want to stimulate collaboration on the EU level. The launched Swedish “National Dementia Strategy” unfortunately puts Swedish research in the bottom division. It seems to have been done just to clear a bad conscience and relief the government from further responsibility. A visionary prospective national plan opens up for strong EU collaborations and support from EU funding agencies. That is already obvious for countries like the Netherlands, France and Denmark.
GW: According to you how will this plan benefit patients and carers?
BW: There is no doubt that the Swedish strategy is better than nothing for the care of persons with dementia in the community. Still, a future plan has to be visionary and have milestones linked to a specific cost for each research area and the milestones should be checked every year.
GW: Thank you!