National Dementia Strategies
- 2010: Interview with Antigoni Diakou
- 2010: Preparations for a Strategic Plan
- 2010: Interview with the Minister of Health
The President of the Pancyprian Alzheimer Association, Antigoni Diakou, talks with Alzheimer Europe about the associations' work to develop a strategic plan (April 2010)
Alzheimer Europe (AE): How has the Pancyprian Alzheimer Association raised awareness of the need for a Strategic Plan against Alzheimer’s disease in Cyprus?
Antigoni Diakou (AD): For the last 14 years, since its foundation, the Pancyprian Alzheimer Association has been working hard to raise awareness about Alzheimer disease amongst the Cypriot population.
We believe we have succeeded in doing this to a great extent, but a lot remains to be done in all other areas that concern the welfare of people with Alzheimer disease and their families.
In order to achieve as much as possible, during all these years,
we have invested in building a strong alliance between the Pancyprian Alzheimer Association and the Cyprus Ministry of Health. We strongly believe in team work and synergy with both the government and the public.
For the last 10 years, the President of the Pancyprian Alzheimer Association has participated in a Multidisciplinary Committee which has been set up by the Ministry of Health to deal with Alzheimer issues.
Through our collaboration, we have made progress for the benefit of people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. For example, one of the medications is given free of charge in state hospitals and the others are provided by co-payment, training has been offered to doctors and nurses, conferences have been held, tv and radio broadcasts have been organised and many activities during the campaigns for Alzheimer International Day have been run jointly.
As President of the Pancyprian Alzheimer Association, I consider it my obligation to fully inform and urge the members of this Multidisciplinary Committee to keep up with european developments in relation to Alzheimer disease. In 2008, representatives from this committee and myself attended the French Conference "The fight against Alzheimer's disease and related disorders", whereby we all came to appreciate the highly regarded French plan. Our participation at the French conference enabled us to develop common understanding and made us think of how we could best contribute to the fight against Alzheimer's disease.
Following that conference, as an NGO, we succeeded in personally contacting and persuading all of our cypriot MEPs to sign the Written Declaration 80/2008.
We also intensified our initiatives and ensured that our Minister of Health Dr. Christos Patsalides was not only informed about these activities but he was also personally involved; whenever he could personally attend to support us he did so. For example, he joined us during our campaign of 2008 Alzheimer Disease International Day and gave a press conference which guaranteed publicity for our cause. In 2009, the Middle Eastern conference was put under his auspices and he again called a press conference. Also in 2009, the Minister inaugurated a Day Care Centre, another initiative of our NGO, in the presence of a cypriot MEP and two national MP’s. His speech denoted the great importance he places on fighting Alzheimer disease.
All of the above are but examples of how through hard work we have proved ourselves to the Minister and we believe we have in this way gained his respect to listen to our needs for the benefit of our cause.
Following the example of the many other European fellow countries which have, or are in the process of developing, national strategic plans against Alzheimer’s disease we felt legitimized to act in a similar way. Thus in January 2010, as an NGO we requested a meeting with the Minister of Health to discuss the need for a Strategic Plan against Alzheimer disease in Cyprus.
At the meeting, we had invited Dr. Magda Tsolaki, President of the Greek Association of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders, to join us and reinforce us by discussing the Greek experience. Her presence proved indeed to be catalytic and our Minister of Health was more than receptive to lead the way for the development of our National Strategic Plan. During the meeting, we presented to our Minister the latest issues of the Alzheimer Europe Magazine and the Newsletters, highlighting the fact that many european countries are developing National Plans. We believe that such documentation added value to our request for the development of the Cyprus Strategic Plan. The Minister was more than positive and proceeded to ask for the set up of a National Committee in which both representatives from the Ministry of Health and our NGO should participate to draft the Cyprus Strategic Plan against Alzheimer disease.
AE: The Pancyprian Alzheimer Association has been asked to co-operate with the Ministry of Health in the Development of a Strategic Plan. What are your hopes and expectations from this process?
AD: As an NGO, I expect the process of co-operating with the Ministry of Health in developing our National Strategic Plan, to be a great learning opportunity leading to change in the way people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families are regarded by the wider cypriot community.
We are determined to continue to invest in efforts of synergy, transparent dialogue and reaching consensus with the Ministry of Health, so as to fully address the needs of people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families for an improved quality of life.
We also expect that the crucial key role of our NGO in raising awareness and informing the public, will be brought forward and even further empowered by the National Strategic Plan.
We hope that our co-operation will finally lead to the implementation of a coherent Strategic Plan of European standards with a realistic budget and time frame.
On 11 January 2010, the Pancyprian Alzheimer Association was asked to cooperate in the development of a Cyprus Strategic Plan for Alzheimer's disease.This was during a meeting on Alzheimer's disaease, which had been requested by Ms Noni Diakou (President of the Pancyprian Alzheimer Association) with the Minister of Health of Cyprus, Dr Christos Patsalides. The Minister pledged his support in the fight against the disease and asked colleages from the Ministry of Health, under the guidance of the director of the Mental Health Services, Dr. Yiannis Kalakoutas, to closely co-operate with the Pancyprian Alzheimer Association so as to prepare the Cyprus Strategic Plan for Alzheimer. At the meeting, Professor Magda Tsolaki, President of the Greek Association of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders was present and the Minister of Health asked her to offer consultation towards the successful preparation of the Cyprus Strategic Plan. The Minister of Health suggested the creation of a national committee to attend to this important call. The Minister of Health further declared his support towards the preparation of the Cyprus Strategic Plan for Alzheimer at an official lunch hosted by the Rotary Club in Nicosia, Hilton on the 14th of January 2009.
The Minister of Health, Dr Patsalides, talks to the Pancyprian Alzheimer Association about the Cyprus Strategic Plan For Alzheimer's Disease (April 2010)
Pancyprian Alzheimer Association (PAA): Dr. Patsalides, in your capacity as Minister of Health of Cyprus, you have pledged your support in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease and have called for the preparation of the Cyprus Strategic Plan for Alzheimer’s disease. Could you explain why you think there is a need for a Strategic Plan in Cyprus?
Christos Patsalides (CP): Alzheimer’s disease poses a growing challenge. It affects the lives of a great number of Cypriots, who either suffer from this disease or care for someone who does. According to the most recent local survey, 14,000 persons older than 60 years suffer from different types of dementia, and, from those, 9,500 suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. As the population of Cyprus grows older, the number of these cases is expected to expand rapidly in the coming years, thus increasing the burden the disease places on individuals and families. Less appreciated are the economic impact and the pressure for the health system and society in general, which will only increase as the prevalence rates of Alzheimer’s disease rise.
A Strategic Plan is needed to assist and ensure that the problem is tackled in a coordinated, comprehensive and cost effective way.
PAA: What do you consider to be the key issues which should be addressed within the Strategic Plan?
CP: The following are considered to be the key issues to be addressed within the Strategic Plan:
- To improve public and professional awareness about the disease for earlier diagnosis and intervention as well as a way to eliminate the associated stigma.
- To upgrade further existing capabilities for early diagnosis and intervention, through joined efforts of various health professionals of private and public sector.
- To plan for the provision of higher quality primary, secondary and tertiary health care for the patients as well as the provision of good quality information, professional support and advice for those diagnosed with the disease and their carers.
- To develop a supportive social network for the patients and their carers, at home, in the community as well as special care homes.
Within the Strategic Plan, the role of various stakeholders involved for each of the above issues, will be specified.
Last Updated: Thursday 14 July 2016