Imagine South Africa developing a National Dementia Plan! This is a goal of the STRiDE project – ‘Strengthening responses to dementia in developing countries’ – coordinated by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in collaboration with Alzheimer’s Disease International.
Involving seven developing countries, STRiDE aims to build research capacity to help these countries respond, in ethical and sustainable ways, to the needs of growing numbers of people living with dementia and their care partners.
To determine a work plan for the four-year project, University of Cape Town academics Margie Schneider and Crick Lund facilitated an initial Theory of Change workshop in Johannesburg, attended by more than 20 people from government departments and the NGO and private sectors.
Nobody knows what the extent of dementia is in South Africa. The statistics just don’t exist. Furthermore, government has no dementia-specific policies or plans. So, it’s good to know that the South African research team will be investigating the prevalence, impact and costs of dementia on people with the condition and their families. This evidence is essential if government is to start recognising dementia as a priority.
Other focal areas of the STRiDE project include reducing stigma; understanding the costs of providing unpaid care; developing research capacity (which includes appointing a full-time early-career researcher); and making research tools and evidence available to the participating countries.
The STRiDE workshop was a valuable opportunity for people who care about dementia to share their concerns and map a way forward. The group agreed that the ultimate impact of the project would be that:
The ability of people with dementia to live a meaningful and dignified life is maximised; and family and carers have the necessary support and resources for wellbeing and to be protected from undue financial hardship.
It is encouraging that this research programme will make a valuable contribution to the development of a National Dementia Plan, and enable the development of policies to improve dementia care in South Africa.