Bengaluru ranks 24th among 30 global cities in dementia innovation
Study aims to uncover opportunities; experts recommend city-specific strategy to tackle prevalence of the brain disorder
Bengaluru has been ranked 24th in dementia innovation out of 30 global cities, according to a new report released on Wednesday by the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA), Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) and the Lien Foundation.
The report, ‘Dementia Innovation Readiness Index 2020: 30 Global Cities’, evaluates the readiness of 30 cities to develop and adopt innovations in dementia and aims to uncover where there are opportunities for innovation across the global dementia community.
Dementia is a progressive neuro-degenerative brain disorder that affects memory, language, problem-solving abilities, and progressively affects the ability to function independently. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.
Dementia innovation readiness is defined in the above-mentioned index as the level to which each city is prepared to innovate in terms of novel approaches, systems, or processes that would have an impact on the prevention, treatment, or care of dementia.
The report examines 26 indicators across five categories of innovation readiness – strategy/commitment, early detection/diagnosis, access to care, community support and business environment.
The report found that Bengaluru ranks 24 out of the 30 cities evaluated with an overall score of 5.2 out of 10. The city scored low in strategy and commitment, and business environment. Of around two lakh dementia patients in Karnataka, nearly 40,000 are in Bengaluru.
Meera Pattabiraman, chair of Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI), said that Bengaluru should focus on a dementia strategy going forward.
“In Bengaluru, experts have implemented community-based screening tools that are calibrated to address specific local issues, like low education rates and heterogeneous cultures and languages,” she said. “Developing a city-specific strategy should be a priority for Bengaluru to address dementia prevalence, and plans have been set in motion to formulate such a strategy.”
P.T. Sivakumar, professor of psychiatry and consultant in Geriatric Psychiatry Unit, Department of Psychiatry in NIMHANS, said Bengaluru is among the leading cities in India to have many active initiatives to cover prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for dementia.
“Major governmental organisations like NIMHANS, Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) and several non-governmental organisations have made active contributions and innovations in this field. However, considering the global standards and the growing need, we need to further enhance these initiatives into a strategic plan that can have a comprehensive approach to this issue,” he said.
Stating that there is a need to create awareness for early diagnosis, reducing stigma and facilitating care with dignity, Dr. Sivakumar said training of primary care physicians and health workers to identify dementia and provide appropriate initial management is required.
“Training of family and professional caregivers for dementia care is also important. There is a need to develop a complete range of care systems that are affordable and accessible for those with limited economic capacity on priority. Promoting technological innovations that can support persons with dementia to maintain independence and ensure good quality of life are most important,” he explained.
Radha S. Murthy, president of ARDSI’s Bengaluru chapter, said the Society was working towards making Bengaluru dementia-friendly by 2025.
“Our support systems are good compared to other cities. We have brought down the cost of care by 40% through tele-medicine. Awareness has increased as a result of which stigma has reduced,” she said.
ADI Chief Executive Paola Barbarino said that local leadership is critical in preparing for dementia. “A willingness to act at a local leadership level has been clearly linked to a city’s preparedness and ability to innovate,” she pointed out.