The UK will use its presidency of the G8 to hold the first global dementia summit.
Prime Minister David Cameron and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt have called on health ministers from the member countries to attend the meeting in London on 11 December.
Mr Hunt described the condition as a global challenge.
Currently there are 35.6 million people worldwide living with dementia. By 2020 the figure will be nearly 70 million.
The total estimated worldwide cost of dementia was $604bn (£386bn) in 2010. About 70% of the costs occur in Western Europe and North America.
But nearly 60% of people with the condition live in developing countries. As their populations grow and age, the pressure on their services and budgets will increase.
Mr Hunt said: “This is a global challenge and one which is set to intensify.
“While we continue to pursue tomorrow’s cures, it is critical now more than ever to pay serious attention to what we can do to reduce the average number of years living with the condition.
“The G8 today have a unique chance to come together to help people manage dementia better, lead healthier lives and deliver real improvements in care and substantial economic savings.”
Hilary Evans, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Worryingly, there have been no new treatments for dementia since 2003 and those in existence only offer modest efficacy.
“We desperately need new treatments and interventions that can delay the onset, slow the progression and manage the symptoms of dementia.
“Only through increased research can we make progress and offer hope to people with dementia.”
Dementia Incidence in Africa
The epidemiology of dementia in Africa as reviewed by the European Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, United Kingdom, indicates that very few of the 100 studies of the prevalence of the disease have been carried out in Africa. Much of the early work concerned small hospitalised samples.
However, series of studies from Ibadan, Nigeria and Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra, Ghana, have produced consistent low rates of reported cases especially for Alzheimer’s disease.
The most recent studies reveal rather higher rates, but still lower than surveys carried out elsewhere. The possible reasons for these findings are considered: differential survival rates, the hiding of cases by relatives because of stigma and reluctance to seek medical assistance as inappropriate.
Others are poor access to medical care, the feeling that the old person has come to the end of his useful life, mis-diagnosis and defective case-finding techniques. The need for further research is therefore emphasised.
A World Health Organisation estimates indicates that about 650,000 people could be suffering from severe mental disorder and a further 2,166 being sufferers of moderate to mild disorders with a high treatment gap of 98 percent of the total population expected to have a mental disorder.
In Ghana, the “Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Association of Ghana,” (ARDAG), a not-for-profit organisation, with vision to create a dementia friendly and literate society is championing awareness of the disease.
Credit: BBC/Ghana Health Nest/ARDAG