European Parliament lunch debate on Alzheimer’s disease

Oana Antonescu MEP (EPP-Romania) and Dr. Peter Liese MEP (EPP-Germany) hosted an event in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Alzheimer’s Disease. The event was held within the framework of the European Parliament’s work on the topic, and both MEPs recognised the importance of research and policy to respond to the increasing prevalence of the disease and the new challenges resulting from an ageing European population.

A wide range of issues for both patients and carers were addressed by the keynote speaker George Garibaldi, including the importance of early detection and early treatment. The influence of environmental factors, such as personal relationships, the work environment and stress, was also underlined. Given the demographic changes that will result in an older population, more people living in Europe will be at risk of developing the disease. Mr. Garibaldi said that the prevalence of dementia is set to increase by 50% by 2020 and 100% by 2040, and therefore further research into the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease is needed. Factors such as early depression should be further recognised and should contribute to early detection.

Ms. Antonescu was appointed rapporteur in the ENVI Committee for the European Parliament Report on the European Commission’s Communication that was issued in July 2009 on a European Initiative on Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias. She said that the European Parliament will explore further ways to work on the issue, given the new rules on the functioning of different European institutions. She said that future work would explore the prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and care for sufferers.

There was support from the other political groups, with a number of interested MEPs in attendance including Nessa Childers (S&D, Ireland) and Frieda Brepoels (Greens/EFA, Belgium).