By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune News Editor
DEMENTIA prevalence in The Bahamas is projected to increase by 226 per cent by 2050, with experts warning that the country has no plan and isn’t doing enough to tackle the issue.
“Over the past year, The Bahamas has made no significant strides in its national dementia response, and we’re disappointed in the lack of funding for diagnosis and research, which is vital if we hope to progress in fighting the disease,” said Wendyi Poitier-Albury, president of The Bahamas Alzheimer’s Association.
A statement from Alzheimer’s Disease International said 40 per cent of forecasted cases could be delayed or potentially avoided, but planning is necessary. It noted that dementia was the 9th leading cause of death between 2017 and 2018.
Yesterday, Health Minister Dr Michael Darville called Mrs Poitier-Albury’s criticism “sad,” adding: “We do have a plan and are addressing many forms of neurological and degenerative diseases. We must meet with them.”
In an interview with The Tribune yesterday, Mrs Poitier-Albury couldn’t say how much funding for diagnosis and research is needed, but said to her knowledge there is no funding for Alzheimer’s and dementia research in the country.
She compared the matter to breast cancer.
“We know that in The Bahamas, we have the prevalence of the BRCA gene, and so we cannot use information that you would find in Canada, in England or in the United States because here in The Bahamas, we are different, and so what we needed for Bahamian women with breast cancer is different,” she said.
“You would have to start testing earlier, doing your mammograms earlier. And I say that to compare that to dementia and Alzheimer’s. Right now, we do know what we are doing is we are using information, and we’re extrapolating that and saying this might be something similar here, but it may be different, and the only way we could find out is if we do research here in The Bahamas.”
She said risk factors that increase dementia and Alzheimer’s include those that also explain the country’s high rates of diabetes and heart disease.
She highlighted the insufficient availability of daycare and respite centres. She said most options are privately run and owned.
“Daycare is not inexpensive,” she added. “The ones that are here, they’re already full because there’s just that lack of resources available.”
She said a Fun Run Walk will be held on March 2nd to promote physical activity while emphasising the value of memories. She said officials want to give a grant to the University of the Bahamas for research.