Joseph Cuschieri (Malta)
MEPs speak out on dementia
2013: Making dementia a European Priority
Joseph Cuschieri, MEP, (Malta, S&D) talks about his involvement with the European Alzheimer’s Alliance and the need to address dementia at European level
Governments and health authorities everywhere in Europe are becoming increasingly aware of the need to tackle the problem of dementia, a physical and mental condition mostly associated with Alzheimer’s disease, although there are other causes. With the Continent’s ageing populations being a social reality that cannot be ignored, it has become even more imperative to make dementia a European health priority.
Dementia is a syndrome which typically involves serious loss of global cognitive ability in a previously unimpaired person, beyond what might be expected from normal ageing. Aside from the impact from disorientation in relation to time, place and person, it also affects areas such as memory, attention, language and problem solving – hence it presents a real and on-going threat to both present and future generations.
It has been claimed that fewer than 10% of cases of dementia are due to causes that may be reversed with treatment. This represents a huge challenge, but a good number of MEPs have chosen to take up the gauntlet by forming and joining the European Alzheimer’s Alliance: a non-exclusive, multinational and cross-party group set up in 2007 and bringing together Members of the European Parliament committed to supporting Alzheimer Europe and its members to making dementia truly a public health priority in Europe.
I am proud to be the first Maltese member of the European Alzheimer’s Alliance during this parliamentary term, particularly since dementia is considered as no less a growing and disturbing reality in Malta today. This is evidenced by the sheer hard work being carried out at the national and international levels by the Malta Dementia Society.
Interestingly, Joseph Muscat, our new Prime Minister, was actually one of the first European Alzheimer’s Alliance Vice Chairs when he was still an MEP and described by many at the time as really supportive of the cause.
The European Alzheimer Alliance’s mission is to:
- Give the political signal that immediate and concerted action is needed at European and national level in the field of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease, research and social policies
- Influence the European political agenda
- Foster a favourable environment at European and national levels where adequate resources are devoted to address the public health issue raised by Alzheimer's disease
- Promote actions that will give dementia and Alzheimer's disease the priority they deserve at European and national levels
- Exchange information and work closely with European networks active in the field of Alzheimer's disease
- Ensure the priorities listed in the Paris Declaration become a reality.
Over the past six years the Alliance, which currently has 70 members from 23 member states of the European Union and all seven political groups in the European Parliament, has been very instrumental in raising awareness about dementia in Europe. Thanks to the support of its members, a series of EU developments have now put dementia on the European health, social and research agenda, though it is recognised that a lot still needs to be done.
This year, Alzheimer Europe’s Annual Conference is being held in Malta between 10 to 12 October and will have as its theme: “Living well in a dementia-friendly society”.
Hopefully, this event will continue to spur our efforts at better informing the Maltese public about the problem of dementia and how to best tackle it and help both those living with the disease as well as their families and circle of friends. The higher the awareness, the more committed we become. Greater awareness enables us to synchronise work between the activities of the Malta Dementia Society and the European Alzheimer’s Alliance within the European Parliament, and with developments (scientific or other) in Europe as a whole.
Last Updated: Tuesday 29 October 2013