Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda said that free drugs and diagnostic facilities will be provided for dementia patients under a free drugs programme of the Centre. He was speaking at the International Symposium on Dementia in Bengaluru on Friday. There were over 44 lakh people with dementia in 2015 and the number is expected to double by 2030. Only 10 per cent of the cases are diagnosed according to the Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI).
He said 1.5 lakh sub centres in India that will be converted into health and wellness centres (as announced in the budget) will soon provide geriatric care that till now provided only mother and child care. “By 2022, all health and wellness centres will provide universal screening for individuals under 30 years of age for hypertension, tuberculosis, diabetes, cervical cancer, breast cancer, leprosy, and this will also include geriatric care and thereby dementia,” said Nadda.
In March, the cabinet approved an allocation for the National Health Mission and said it would have a “special focus” with “intensification of initiatives such as National Health Mission Free Drugs and Diagnostic Services Initiatives”.
ARDSI submitted a Dementia India Strategy Report to Nadda. The National Dementia Strategy plan is an initial step to bring transformation in ensuring comprehensive dementia services. This outlines the government’s plan to commit resources that are necessary to address the problems of dementia.
There are seven core areas to set out as national priorities in the national strategy — make dementia a national health and social care priority, dementia awareness and dementia-friendly communities, risk reduction and dementia prevention, improve access to best medical care and strengthen standard treatment protocols, social support services, research and development, strengthen dementia disease surveillance system.
“I assure on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will very soon come out with an Action Plan for Dementia based on the country’s strategy developed by ARDSI and NIMHANS, and also assimilate the same in our ministry’s policies and programmes.” Nadda said.