The Middle East regional members meeting, held on 26 July, had 14 participants from 10 countries in attendance. The session opened with an overview of the meeting’s agenda, as well acknowledgement and recognition of the members’ continued hard work throughout the last year and a half.
The three hour session was divided into two parts and focused primarily on policy, with acting CEO Chris Lynch leading discussions and workshops around the development of national dementia plans. As outlined in the most recent From Plan to Impact report, progress is falling short on WHO Global action plan on dementia, with only 32 of 194 WHO Member States having developed national dementia plans. In the Middle East, Qatar and Kuwait are the only countries in the region to have introduced national plans.
All 194 WHO Member States signed up to a global plan [in 2017]. It was unanimously adopted by every country. That means that each of those countries should be remitted to produce a national dementia plan.
Other barriers to progress mirrored those that had been outlined in previous regional member meetings this year, including the need to build up better relationships with government and dementia as a lack of prioritisation, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
In the second half of the meeting, awareness raising was brought up as a key area for development, for many of the countries in attendance. The associations discussed their evolving roles in providing support around risk reduction, as well as developing engaging content and information for younger people. Faraneh Farin, CEO of Iran Dementia and Alzheimer’s Association (IDAA) spoke on IDAA’s work to educate school children and the importance of bringing awareness of Alzheimer’s and dementia to the younger population, especially as many of them provide some support of care for older family members at home.
As the meeting neared a close, Dr Mani Chandran of Qatar Alzheimer’s Society spoke about the importance of coming together to “learn from each other and help each other move forward”.