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The ILC Cape Town Declaration on a Global Response to Dementia – A Call to Action is a consensus outcome document of the symposium on “The Globalisation of Dementia: Issues and Responses” held in Cape Town, South Africa on October 26, 2010.

The Declaration was adopted by representatives of International Longevity Centres on behalf of the ILC Global Alliance in the symposium, and subsequently disseminated to global agencies and organisations concerned with dementia for comment on the structure, contents and recommendations of the Declaration. Feedback from these online consultations was incorporated in successive drafts of a revised Declaration. The Declaration was drafted by Jill Adkins, an attorney and consultant at Age Rights International (www.agerightsinternational.org), Dr Masako Osako, Executive Director of the Secretariat of the ILC Global Alliance and Dr Monica Ferreira, Co-President of the Global Alliance and President of ILC–South Africa, all of whom participated in the Cape Town symposium. Feedback was fielded and the Declaration revised by Adkins and Ferreira. The Declaration has been published in a special issue on dementia of the International Federation on Ageing’s journal, Global Ageing (July 2011).

The Cape Town Declaration on Dementia (short title) was designed as an advocacy tool to mobilise forces around dementia awareness and to forge policy action. It is not portended to be a definitive statement of rights or principles that can inform a range of external processes, nor in its present form is it intended to be an action plan for implementation by other bodies. Rather, the Declaration acknowledges trends, embodies facts and addresses issues relating to dementia, and emphasises the urgency for countries to make dementia a national priority, and to develop a comprehensive response to the disease. In addition, the Declaration proposes a range of policy and response strategies in 12 broad recommendations. The recommendations are similar to those being made by experts and researchers on dementia, and dementia advocacy organisations globally, as necessary steps in a global, regional and national endeavour to address the present and future impact of dementia.

The Declaration adopts a human rights approach as a base for a comprehensive response to dementia, and acknowledges existing human rights mechanisms applicable to persons with dementia. As such, it supports an ongoing international movement aimed at strengthening the protection of older persons’ rights, which include the rights of persons with dementia, the efforts of which movement may indeed culminate in a call to the United Nations for a convention on the rights of older persons.

The twelve broad recommendations articulated in the Declaration address topics that range from enhanced accessibility to appropriate health and social care, to the design and implementation of models of care which reduce the burden of dementia on families and national governments alike. A specific recommendation (# 12) emphasises the importance of the participation and input of individuals and groups most directly impacted by the condition, the primary stakeholders – persons with dementia, and their families and informal carers, in processes to formulate and implement policy.

The ILC Global Alliance initiated drafting of the Cape Town Declaration on Dementia, and co-ordinated consultation and its revision. It now encourages stakeholders globally to engage in debate on the Declaration, and to work towards its ultimate adoption and ensuing action plans. The Alliance invites all stakeholders to comment on the Declaration and to suggest processes that may be followed to foster its adoption. Comment and suggestions may be submitted online to Dr Monica Ferreira at monica.ferreira@uct.ac.za, Jill Adkins at jadkins@agerightsinternational.com, and/or Dr Masako Osako at masakoosako2@hotmail.com.

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