KARACHI – Renowned neurologist and president of Pakistan Society of Neurology, Prof Dr Wasay Shakir, said here that an estimated 0.2 million people are currently suffering from dementia (Alzheimer’s) disease in Pakistan and prevalence of disease is linked with rising life expectancy.
He was speaking at a news conference held at Karachi Press Club in connection with `World Dementia (Alzheimer’s) Day’ observed globally on Sept 21. Neurophysiologist Dr Muhammad Shahid Mustafa and Neurology Awareness & Research Foundation’s secretary Dr Abdul Malik also spoke on the occasion.
“This is a day when organizations around the world make their concerted efforts to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia,” Prof Wasay said, adding that Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a group of disorders that impairs mental functioning.
“Every 68 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated that about 5-7 per cent people with above 65 years of age and 10-15pc with above 75 years of age are affected with this disease. Its prevalence is growing and economic and social burden is high,” he noted.
He told newsmen that an estimated population (65+ years) in Pakistan is eight million.
He said in Pakistan there is no population base study on neurological diseases like dementia. Due to a lack of research and in the cultural context, it is very difficult to get an accurate number of people suffering from this disease. However, the extrapolated prevalence of people with dementia disease in Pakistan is 0.2 million.
He said by the year 2050, Pakistan will become the third most populous country of the world with an estimated population of 380m, leavening behind the United States, Indonesia, Brazil and Russia. The estimated 36m young people (aged between15 and 24) that currently live in Pakistan; the most that have ever lived at any other time in its history (population Council, 2004) will be at risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by the year 2050.
At that time, the life expectancy is expected to rise and thus the economic burden of treating patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia will increase immensely, he opined.
Underscoring the need for creating awareness about dementia among people, he said that need of the hour is also to train doctors who could treat dementia patients and offer assistance to their families.
Moreover, timely intervention of the government in the form of increased funding in education and health will ease the current and future cost of treating people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, Prof Shakir added.
Neurophysiologist Dr Muhammad Shahid Mustafa advised the people to live a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of disease. He said eating a healthy diet reduces risk for conditions, which are risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr Abdul Malik said daily exercise helps brain and heart to stay healthy, besides flexing mental muscle through social activities and mentally challenging activities would also help people to stay sharp.-PR