Karnataka Declares Dementia as a Public Health Priority
The state of Karnataka in India has made a significant move by declaring dementia as a public health priority. Dinesh Gundu Rao, the minister for health and family welfare, announced this during the launch of the Final Draft Karnataka Action Plan for Dementia at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans) in Bengaluru.
The plan, which was prepared in collaboration with the Dementia India Alliance and Nimhans, proposes the establishment of a dementia registry and the provision of home-based caregiver assistance for people with dementia. These measures aim to improve the care and support available to individuals with dementia and their families.
Dr. Pratima Murthy, the director and senior professor of psychiatry at Nimhans, emphasized the importance of acknowledging dementia in the public health space. She stated that screening for dementia should be conducted for all individuals above 60 years of age, as well as those with non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, respiratory diseases, and mental health disorders. Early detection of cognitive impairment in high-risk groups can lead to timely interventions and improve outcomes.
The draft action plan also emphasizes the need for an inclusive dementia support policy, particularly in public spaces. Dr. Murthy highlighted the issue of individuals with dementia getting lost and stressed the importance of implementing measures to prevent such incidents. Currently, only 5% of people with dementia in Karnataka are identified, according to data from the Karnataka Brain Health Initiative. Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial to improving these numbers.
To address these issues, the initiative aims to train Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers to identify dementia and provide necessary support. This step is expected to enhance awareness and ensure that individuals with dementia receive the care and assistance they require.
In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the impact of dementia on individuals and communities. This neurological disorder not only affects memory and cognitive function but also has profound social and economic implications. By prioritizing dementia as a public health issue, Karnataka is taking a proactive approach to address the challenges posed by this condition.
In addition to the government’s efforts, collaborations with organizations like the Dementia India Alliance and Nimhans are contributing to the development of comprehensive action plans and initiatives. These partnerships facilitate the sharing of knowledge, resources, and expertise, ultimately benefiting individuals with dementia and their families.
It is heartening to see the commitment of Karnataka to tackle dementia and improve the lives of those affected by this condition. By implementing the proposed action plan and investing in dementia care and support, the state has the potential to make a significant difference in the lives of its residents.