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AMA plans bigger role for doctors in meeting challenges of dementia 'epidemic'.

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Media Release

Date released:

14 March 2005

AMA Plans Bigger Role for Doctors in Meeting Challenges of Dementia 'Epidemic'

AMA Vice-President, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, said today

that the AMA is planning a bigger role for doctors in

treating and caring for an ever-increasing number of

patients with dementia.

The AMA's Committee on the Care of Older People met

over the weekend to discuss proposals for a whole-of-community approach to meeting the dementia

challenge, with doctors playing a central role.

The AMA's initiatives come as research commissioned

by Alzheimer's Australia estimates that nearly 52,000

Australians would be newly diagnosed with dementia

this year.

Dr Haikerwal said 1000 new dementia cases a week

present an unprecedented emotional and economic

crisis for families, which calls for comprehensive

planning by governments, the healthcare sector and

the general community.

"The dementia problem is bigger than anybody could

have predicted," Dr Haikerwal said.

"Now that all Australian Governments have categorised

dementia as a national health priority and the

Commonwealth government has committed significant

funding, we can start developing strategies to cater for

the needs of dementia patients and their families.

"Doctors will be at the heart of these strategies, and

the AMA has set some priorities for future planning.

"The immediate task is to use all the available research

into dementia - local and international - to implement

prevention strategies and develop effective early

diagnosis and treatment.

"Diagnosing dementia is challenging and takes time,

and requires skills which we must recognise and utilise.

"We also have to ensure that dementia patients have

smooth access to the available sources of appropriate

care - community, residential aged care, sub acute

care, and acute care in hospital.

"But to be truly effective we have to recruit and train

specially skilled health professionals, including GPs,

geriatricians and psycho-geriatricians into dementia


"The research shows that dementia is a big health

challenge for the future, but the reality is that it is a

significant problem now.

"We have to do the hard work now to prepare the

health system and the community for the emotional

pain that dementia brings to sufferers and their loved

ones," Dr Haikerwal said.

Date released: 14/03/2005

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