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Dementia research funding to double

Annual funding for dementia research is set to rise to £66m by 2015 to try to make theUKa world leader in the field, Prime Minister David Cameron will announce.

Dementia is thought to affect around 800,000 people in theUK, and costs society an estimated £23bn. The number of people with the condition is expected to top one million in the next decade and the costs associated with dementia are already higher than those for cancer, heart disease or stroke.

Cameron will set out plans to increase research and ensure our current health and social care systems are equipped to deal with the challenge. The total funding for dementia research in 2010 was £26.6m. In addition to funding for research, £54m will be provided to help hospitals to provide earlier diagnoses.

Cameron will say: “One of the greatest challenges of our time is what I’d call the quiet crisis, one that steals lives and tears at the hearts of families, but that relative to its impact is hardly acknowledged.

“Dementia is simply a terrible disease. And it is a scandal that we as a country haven’t kept pace with it. The level of diagnosis, understanding and awareness of dementia is shockingly low. It is as though we’ve been in collective denial.

“So my argument today is that we’ve got to treat this like the national crisis it is. We need an all-out fightback against this disease, one that cuts across society. We did it with cancer in the 70s. With HIV in the 80s and 90s. We fought the stigma, stepped up to the challenge and made massive in-roads into fighting these killers.

“Now we’ve got to do the same with dementia. This is a personal priority of mine, and it’s got an ambition to match. That ambition – nothing less than forBritainto be a world leader in dementia research and care.”

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Doubling funding for research, tackling diagnosis and calling for a radical shift in the way we talk, think and act on dementia will help to transform lives. There are currently 800,000 people with dementia, yet too many are not able to live well with the condition.

“The PM is leading the way, but from Plymouth to Preston, from the boardroom to bus drivers, we all have a role to play.”

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