David Cameron (and Jeremy Hunt) have shown real leadership on dementia, putting it high on the political agenda at yesterday's G8 summit at Lancaster House. Doubling funding to research is a start but charities want much more action. With 400m people worldwide (and 800,000 in the UK) affected by one of the tragic consequences of ageing populations, progress is urgently needed.
Jeremy Hughes, ACEVO member and CEO of Alzheimer's UK set out a powerful argument in the Guardian. It’s worth reading. (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/dec/11/dementia-disease-care-g8-action-plan )
I liked the comment from Hunt on Daybreak yesterday,
“The year I was elected to Parliament – 2005 – Tony Blair...did an amazing thing because he had a G8 summit on HIV aids and he got the world’s leaders to agree that everyone who needed an anti-retroviral drugs should be able to get them by 2012 and he basically achieved that and we really have turned the corner on HIV aids.
“The job isn’t done, but if you can get countries together and you can get collective commitment and dementia is the big disease that no one likes to talk about; everyone’s worried about it; everyone’s scared about it; one in three people are going to get it and what we’re really trying to do is normalise it and say ‘this is sadly going to be a big part of our lives but let’s talk about it, let’s fight it and let’s deal with it – let’s not try and sweep it under the carpet and get more and more worried about it.”
The decision to give dementia a priority billing at the G8 is a real breakthrough. But much remains to be done. But let’s just remember as we praise the politicians, this is yet another example of the superb work that our charities do in their advocacy and campaigning role.
And that vital role was the backdrop to our meeting in the Lords yesterday when I joined the members of the Commission on civil society who were meeting with the Government to discuss the recommendations for essential changes to the lobbying bill. It was goof to see Greg Clarke MP who is the lead Minister on this. Greg is a star act and I know him well from his time as shadow third sector Minister. He gets the sector. He engages with us and was a strong force behind the rights for the sector that were entrenched in the Localism Bill. He engaged with us and although we were not told of any changes I get the feeling we will get progress. How far that goes to meeting the objectives of the Commission remains to be seen.