PM vows to double dementia funding
Funding for research into dementia is to be more than doubled by 2015 in a bid to make Britain a world leader in the field, David Cameron has announced.
The Prime Minister declared that tackling the "national crisis" posed by the disease is one of his personal priorities.
He said it is a "scandal" that the UK has not done more to address dementia, which is thought to affect 670,000 people although about 400,000 have not been diagnosed and do not know they have it. The cost to UK society is estimated at £23 billion.
Over the next 10 years, the number with the disease is expected to rise to one million.
Launching a "national challenge on dementia", Mr Cameron set out plans to step up research into cures and treatments and to ensure that the health and social care systems are equipped to deal with the problem.
Hospitals will be given an extra £54 million to assist the diagnosis of the disease. Overall funding for dementia research is to reach £66 million by 2015, from £26.6 million in 2010.
"One of the greatest challenges of our time is what I'd call the quiet crisis, one that steals lives and tears at the hearts of families, but that relative to its impact is hardly acknowledged," he said.
"Dementia is simply a terrible disease. And it is a scandal that we as a country haven't kept pace with it. The level of diagnosis, understanding and awareness of dementia is shockingly low. It is as though we've been in collective denial."
The Prime Minister said that the costs associated with the disease are already higher than those for cancer, heart disease or stroke.
Shirley Cramer, acting chief executive of Alzheimer's Research UK, said Mr Cameron's announcement was an "important step" in recognising and solving the challenge presented by dementia.