DAI Observes World Health Day

DAI Observes World Health Day
Author: Kate Swaffer
Published: Friday, April 7th 2023

DAI Observes World Health Day

In 1948, a collaboration of countries around the world came together and founded the World Health Organization (WHO), to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable, so that everyone, everywhere is able to attain the highest level of health and well-being.  This year is the WHO’s 75th #WHO75 anniversary and is an opportunity to look back at public health successes that have improved quality of life during the last seven decades and also an opportunity to inspire action to tackle the health challenges we face today and into the future. The #WHD2023 is also an opportunity to observe its 75th anniversary, 75 years of improving public health.

On 7 April every year, is World Health Day (WHD) #WHD, and we encourage everyone to support the WHO by observing it.  It is focused on a specific public health concern or issue each year, in addition to focusing on the journey to achieving #HealthForAll.

Of note to DAI members, in relation to World Health Day, is that people with dementia have seen little improvement in their access to health, and continue to be denied equal access to Universal Health Coverage #UHC. This means there are more than 57 million people living with dementia globally (2019), who do not have the same access to health, as others. Hence, people with dementia are also being left behind in the  Sustainable Development Goal number 3 #SDG3.

Following my own diagnosis, apart from the stigma and discrimination, I too found that I no longer had equal access to health care, or indeed, to any post diagnostic support me to live with dementia. Disturbingly, I was only advised to prepare to die, via aged care, something I later termed as Prescribed Disengagement®. Instead I should have been given advice – and support -  to reinvest in living, including being provided with equal health care, and disability support.

The lack of equal access to health care or disability support, is supported by multiple research projects, and a number of recent Alzheimer’s Disease International World Alzheimer’s Reports.

For example, findings relevant to equitable access to health from the 2022 ADI World Alzheimer’s Report survey included:

·      A surprising number of people living with dementia indicated they had not been offered post-diagnosis support beyond the initial information provided immediately after their diagnosis. In lower-income countries, 45% indicated they had not been offered support, while in higher-income countries, 37% indicated they were offered nothing. 62% of informal carers from lower-income countries said that the person in their care had not been given access to post-diagnosis support, whereas in higher-income countries 36% indicated they had not.

·      64% of respondents living with dementia indicated they did not have a personalised care plan – a roadmap indicating how they would want to receive care throughout the progression of their condition.

·      Much more still needs to be done globally in terms of improving access to information, education, and resources to ensure equitable access to care.

Relevant key findings in the 2021 ADI World Alzheimer’s Report survey included:

·      Only 45% of people with dementia and care partners felt they were given adequate information at the point of diagnosis, identifying a major gap in clinician signposting.

·      Conversely, clinicians do have a source to refer to, as 98% of 101 Alzheimer’s and dementia associations stated that they maintain and update information on diagnosis on their webpages.

·      Key barriers to diagnosis identified by people with dementia and care partners included lack of access to trained clinicians (47%), fear of diagnosis (46%) and cost (34%).

·      Key barriers to diagnosis identified by clinicians included lack of access to specialised diagnostic tests (38%), lack of knowledge in making a diagnosis (37%) and the widespread belief that nothing could be done (33%).

·      Personal testimonies from people with dementia and care partners consistently indicate the lengthy time taken before being given a diagnosis, as well as a lack of information at the point of diagnosis about specific types of dementia, progression and available support.

Findings from the World Alzheimer Report 2019: Attitudes to dementia included:

·      Over 50% of carers globally say their health has suffered as a result of their caring responsibilities even whilst expressing positive sentiments about their role

·      Almost 62% of healthcare providers worldwide think that dementia is part of normal ageing

·      40% of the general public think doctors and nurses ignore people with dementia

Health For All

Human Rights For All


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