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New dementia strategy to cope with projected rise in cases

Kyodo

The government on Tuesday adopted a new strategy to bolster measures against dementia, expecting the number of patients to reach about 7 million in 2025 as the population ages.

The policy is aimed at providing appropriate medical care and support for patients and their families and ensuring closer cooperation across government ministries and agencies.

“We will pursue a framework and make it a model for the world,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a meeting of relevant Cabinet ministers where the strategy was approved, referring to dementia as a “common challenge” around the world.

In the draft budget for fiscal 2015, which starts April 1, the Abe administration increased its allocation for dementia measures to ¥16.1 billion, up ¥6.6 billion from fiscal 2014.

The adoption of the new framework comes as Japan deals with a growing number of dementia patients going missing or becoming victims of consumer-related fraud.

Roughly one in five people aged above 65 will be affected by the progressive neurological condition in 2025, when postwar baby boomers turn 75 or older, according to a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry study team.

As of 2012, the number of patients aged 65 or older was estimated at 4.62 million.

The strategy features seven pillars, including the introduction of dementia diagnosis training in line with the administration’s goal to provide suitable medical treatment and care.

Another pillar of the strategy is to research and develop ways to prevent and treat the disease. By the end of fiscal 2015, the administration will establish a system for early diagnosis of the illness and begin clinical trials of a cure by around 2020.

The administration also aims to introduce in fiscal 2016 a scheme to enhance cooperation among primary care doctors, specialists and people involved in nursing care to provide support for dementia patients.

The framework, dubbed the New Orange Plan, replaces the health ministry’s five-year Orange Plan on dementia care in place since fiscal 2013.

Abe announced the plan for a revised national strategy at an international conference on dementia care in Tokyo in November.