A concerted new bid to reduce the frequently fatal impact of dementia is underway, with the Morrison Government launching a special fund aiming to delay the onset of the disease in Australia by at least five years.
Up to $15 million has been earmarked for Implementing Dementia Risk Reduction and Prevention Research Priority projects, with a further $3 million available to boost Australian dementia data and track prevalence and progress.
The outcomes of these two grants programs – which open today – could be critical, with the capacity to delay dementia’s debilitating and often deadly progression and help people living with the condition, their families and carers.
Dementia is deadliest among females, killing more Australian women than any other condition. It claims the lives of over 13,000 men and women a year.
Up to 250 people a day are developing dementia already and on current trends, that will almost triple by 2050.
This funding is about winning the race against dementia before it starts in individual people.
It cements our resolve to achieve the World Dementia Council’s international target of a five-year delay in average dementia onset by 2025 and reduce the burden of dementia within the our community.
This investment in the discovery of prevention methods that work for dementia and could be applied through comprehensive public health awareness campaigns is crucial.
We know modifiable lifestyle factors like reducing stress, stopping smoking, staying physically and mentally active, and keeping cholesterol and blood pressure low, offer real opportunities to drive back dementia.
But we need to understand to what extent and in what circumstances they produce positive results.
Intensive reduction and prevention research offers new hope for lowering the incidence of dementia across coming generations and reducing the trauma and the social and financial costs, for the benefit of all Australians.
Since 2015, NHMRC’s National Institute for Dementia Research (NNIDR) has been targeting, coordinating and translating the strategic expansion of dementia research in Australia.
Dementia has been a priority since 2015, when our Government launched the National Framework for Action on Dementia and the 5-year, $200 million Boosting Dementia Research initiative, of which today’s $18 million announcement is the final tranche.
Three years in, the initiative has helped make Australia a world leader in many aspects of dementia research.
In July this year, we also launched the new $38 million Australian Dementia Network (ADNet), to accelerate the quest to find cures and prevent and better manage dementia.
ADNet is currently establishing a national network of memory clinics to speed assessment and improve specialist access for all Australians, through advanced imaging, genetics and lifestyle data. It is also registering and preparing volunteers for participation in clinical trials and other research programs, to speed research.