NEW YORK, Sept. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) today applauded the General Assembly of the United Nations for specifically identifying Alzheimer's disease as an important cause of death and contributor to the global non-communicable disease (NCD) burden, noting that this recognition is "invaluable toward lifting Alzheimer's disease to the global platform necessary to attack this worldwide public health crisis."
The United Nations declaration states, in part, that Assembly members "recognize that mental and neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, are an important cause of morbidity and contribute to the global NCD burden for which there is a need to provide equitable access to effective programmes and health care interventions."
The Assembly's formal recognition was an outgrowth this week of the body's high-level meeting on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.
"The UN declaration sends a powerful message that Alzheimer's disease is a chronic disease of immense proportion that does not discriminate across geographic boundaries," said Eric J. Hall, AFA's founding president and CEO. "It is invaluable toward lifting Alzheimer's disease to the global platform necessary to attack this worldwide public health crisis, and offers hopes to countless families that this recognition can help advance efforts toward a cure and optimal care in all corners of the globe."
Hall also praised Representatives Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chairs of the Bipartisan Congressional Alzheimer's Taskforce, along with 28 other taskforce members, for urging the United Nations last June to include Alzheimer's disease among its discussions at the summit.
"Their leadership, proactive approach and bipartisan commitment are fueling much of the attention being paid of late to Alzheimer's disease on the national and international levels," Hall said.
The United Nations declaration comes just one week before Hall and other members of the newly-appointed Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research, Care, and Services, as established under the National Alzheimer's Project Act, are set to hold their first meeting. The act calls for coordinated government efforts and development of a national strategy to defeat Alzheimer's disease.
"The growing commitment to the cause is becoming more and more evident—and rightly so. These groundbreaking steps are making it more within our reach to get a grip on this heartbreaking disease," Hall said.
To further efforts on a global level, Hall also renewed his call to convene an international meeting by June 2012 of nations that already have national plans in place or in process to combat Alzheimer's disease in order to "listen and learn from the best practices and strategies that are making a difference in people's lives around the globe."
He first called for an international caucus in testimony last June at a hearing before the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights.
In that testimony, Hall noted that Alzheimer's Foundation International, an outgrowth of AFA, is "working toward collaboratively setting a paradigm of quality care for individuals with the disease and their families by raising awareness of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, providing education, and establishing programs and services that can be replicated in countries around the globe."
Currently, Alzheimer's disease, which results in loss of memory and other intellectual functions, affects as many as 5.1 million Americans and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Advanced age is the greatest known risk factor.
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include counseling and referrals by licensed social workers via a toll-free hot line, e-mail, Skype, and live chat; educational materials; a free quarterly magazine for caregivers; and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.
SOURCE Alzheimer's Foundation of America