The country’s two biggest dementia charities today urged the government to treble investment on research into the disease within the next five years so the UK can “lead the world in the race for a cure”.
The Alzheimer’s Society and the Alzheimer’s Research Trust said dementia research was “drastically underfunded” and the government was failing to exploit the country’s scientific talent to further attempts to combat the disease.
Spending far lower than for cancer
The statement said the government spent almost eight times as much on cancer research as on dementia research in 2007-8 – £248.5m versus £32.4m – and that spending per head on the study of dementia was less than half the level in the USA.
They said that without increased research funding to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment, the costs of dementia could prove unaffordable given that the number of people with the condition is projected to rise by around 40% in the next 15 years.
They said this was a missed opportunity given the quality of research in the UK, which provided 7% of the top 100 cited original publications on dementia in the world from 2004-9, more than any other European country.
The charities made the joint statement, which they said was backed by eminent scientists, to influence the government’s dementia research summit, which is taking place on 21 July.
They called for spending to be trebled to £96m over the next five years to put spending per head on a par with the United States, alongside a vision of how research can deliver improved treatment and care.
They also said the government needed to create a “dementia research environment to attract, develop and retain the very best scientists”
Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Neil Hunt said: “The dementia research summit must be more than just a talking shop. It is a crucial opportunity for the government, charities and stakeholders to commit to a shared vision for dementia research. WE need an ambitious plan that drives changes and defeats this devastating condition.”
Alzheimer’s Research Trust