LAHORE - Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin chaired a ‘Seminar on Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementias’ in connection with the World Alzheimer’s Day at Govt College University here on Monday.  The theme of this year’s World Alzheimer’s Day is “Let’s talk about dementia” as through talking and conversation we can increase awareness to tackle the stigma that prevents people from seeking out the information, advice, support and help they need.  Vice-Chancellor, GCU Prof Asghar Zaidi delivered welcome address and presented report on qualitative research titled ‘Understanding, Beliefs and Treatment of Dementia in Pakistan’.  He said, “Dementia is a global health priority, but progress towards its understanding and treatment in low and middle-income countries has been slow, despite rapidly ageing populations.” He highlighted issues related to diagnosis and management of patients.  Dr Ali Hashmi presented psychiatric perspective and Dr Salma Hassan highlighted the psychological interventions for dementia families.  Secretary General Alzheimer’s Pakistan Dr Hussain Jafri said that dementia mainly affects people over the age of 65 years.

The rapid increase in number of PWD shows that the world is aging fast, resulting in huge global impact of dementia.  There are around one million People With Dementia (PWD) in Pakistan.  He highlighted that Pakistan is a signatory to WHO Global Plan on Dementia requiring work on awareness, detection, treatment and care.  Dr Yasmin Rashid said that the increase in the number of PWD is alarming and it is time that government is keen to initiate much-needed services for the elderly.  

She announced that Punjab shall soon launch the Provincial Dementia Plan.  She said, “Under this plan, a range of services shall be provided such as hospital-based memory clinics, resource mobilisation for early diagnosis and treatment, counseling services to caregivers and mass awareness.  Moreover, a Provincial Dementia Committee has been established which is currently working towards establishing registry of PWD at all hospitals.”  Dementia is a collective name for progressive degenerative brain syndromes which affect memory, thinking, behavior and emotion. 

The chemistry of the brain changes and cells, nerves and transmitters are attacked. Eventually the brain shrinks as gaps develop. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.

The Minister added that people with physically active life style have much less chance of suffering from the disease. It is very important to create awareness about the disease. Alzheimer’s Patients, she said, deserve special care and attention.