ADI attends the WHO Executive Board: A week of advocacy in Europe and beyond

As the global voice on dementia, ADI has embarked on impactful week of advocacy in Europe and beyond. Attending the WHO Executive Board meetings in Geneva, a high level meeting of health ministries at OECD, Paris, and virtually joining the HGPI in Japan. With key members of ADI staff making multiple addresses to international bodies seeking to improve and strengthen policies that relate to dementia.

On Monday 22 January, ADI CEO Paola Barbarino started the day by delivering an online keynote lecture at the Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI) in Japan. The symposium “Global Expert Meeting: Considering Participation Among People Living with Dementia in the Formulation of National Dementia Strategies and in Policy Making Processes” aimed to shine a light on the necessity of including the voices of people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s in policymaking. Paola presented her keynote speech: “Making Progress on Dementia Policy in the International Community,” which discussed the progress towards the implementation of the World Health Organization Global Action Plan on the public health response to dementia and highlighted key progress by ADI Members and the global community to date.  The importance of working advocacy groups of people living with dementia and carers, were at the heart of the symposium discussions.  

Following the HGPI webinar, Paola and Chris, ADI’s Deputy CEO, travelled to Paris to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) headquarters to attend a high-level meeting on ‘The Future of People-Centred Health Innovation,’ hosting multiple Ministers of Health as speakers, including from Ministério da Saúde of Brazil, Terviseamet of Estonia, the Ministero della Salute of Italy, the Ministry of Health for Singapore, and Ministerio de Sanidad of Spain. 

People-centred care for those living with dementia must focus on both prevention and, importantly, post-diagnostic support, an area which still requires significant improvement in most countries. Paola reflected on the event: 

“Despite the large presence of health ministers in the room, in the sessions I attended there was very little talk of ideas to make the life of the aged population better and no mention of dementia or Alzheimer’s, despite it being the 7th biggest cause of death and a growing challenge for everyone. The OECD team have been wonderful in highlighting the importance of care, but the challenge remains the same: we need governments to address the new challenges posed by the welcome development of new diagnostics and therapeutics as well as the old challenges of lack of sufficient care provision and understanding the long-term cost benefits of dementia risk reduction and post-diagnostic support.” 

Meanwhile in Geneva, ADI’s Lewis Arthurton joined the WHO Executive Board and gave a statement on the WHO’s draft 14th General Programme of Work, a strategy designed to set the course for the WHO activities over the coming years, from 2025-2028. Dementia is affecting 55 million people worldwide, with this number being set to increase to 139 million by 2050. In light of these concerning figures, Lewis delivered his statement calling on the WHO to: 

“Strengthen matters related to dementia within this document, to ensure that the condition is addressed adequately, to ensure health and care system preparedness and to ensure that those living with dementia and carers receive the support they need.”  

ADI calls for WHO Executive Board Members to commit to a 10-year extension to the Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to dementia from 2025. 

On Tuesday 23 January, Paola, Chris and Lewis met with the Director General of Health in Malaysia, Datuk Seri Dr. Muhammad Radzi bin Abu Hassan to discuss the progress towards the National Dementia Plan in Malaysia, and confirm a commitment to launch a National Dementia Plan in 2024. Once approved, Malaysia will be the 40th WHO Member State with a National Dementia Plan. We thank the Government of Malaysia for their work in improving the lives of those living with dementia and carers in their country. 

A timely meeting was also held with the Minister of Health, and extended delegation, from the Maldives, with a focus on their plans to develop a national dementia response.  It was an excellent opportunity to discuss the distinct challenges of dementia and the healthcare systems across 188 inhabited islands. Dr Abdullah Khaleel and his team are progressing on national plan development, supported by the Alzheimer’s Society of the Maldives.    

ADI also prepared two additional statements  on the “Follow-up to the political declaration of the third high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases” and ‘WHO’s work in health emergencies: Public health emergencies: preparedness and response’. For both of these agenda items, ADI also submitted detailed feedback for Member States and the WHO Secretariate. 

ADI welcomes the inclusion and recognition of dementia within the declaration on the prevention and control of non-communicable disease; the acknowledgment that dementia is an NCD has proved an ongoing challenge. Currently, dementia is often not considered an non-communicable disease by many, despite dementia being the 7th leading cause of death across the world and the 5th when considering just non-communicable diseases. The inclusion of dementia within the declaration has been vital. During this meeting, WHO Member States Japan and Chile delivered timely interventions, furthering the call for the Global Action Plan extension. 

A final and important meeting took place on the Wednesday, with Chris meeting the permanent mission from Ukraine in Geneva, alongside Iryna Shevchenko, from the national association, Nezabutini.  The meeting focused on the determination to develop a National Dementia Plan, support for the call for an extension the Global Action Plan and the opportunity to amplify the planned World Alzheimer Month awareness campaign, later in 2024.   


At the end of February, ADI will be hosting a special webinar in partnership with the World Health Organization. Alzheimer’s Disease International is delighted to bring together a distinguished panel of WHO experts  to highlight WHO programmes that work towards better support for those living with dementia and their carers, and delving into critical areas such as the Global Dementia Action Plan (GDAP), Mental Health Global Action Plan (mhGAP), and long term care strategy from the Integrated Care for Older People (ICOPE) team. 

Register for the webinar

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