Funding for dementia research will be more than doubled by 2015 to tackle "one of the greatest challenges of our time" and make Britain a world leader in the field, David Cameron will announce today.
Declaring the problem a personal priority, the Prime Minister will say there must be a collective fight against the "quiet crisis", in the same way there was against cancer and HIV. Thought to affect 670,000 people – although about 400,000 have not been diagnosed and do not know they have it – dementia is estimated to cost the UK £23bn a year. The number affected is expected to rise to one million in the next 10 years.
Launching a "national challenge on dementia", Mr Cameron will say funding for dementia research will reach £66m by 2015, from £26.6m 2010.
"One of the greatest challenges ... 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," he will say today. He will say that dementia is a terrible disease and it is a scandal that the UK has failed to keep pace with it.
"It is as though we've been in collective denial," Mr Cameron will declare. Labelling the issue a "national crisis", he will add that there needs to be an all-out fight-back against this disease 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," Mr Cameron will say.
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said that it was "an unprecedented step".
Mr Hughes said: "Doubling funding for [dementia] research, tackling diagnosis and calling for a radical shift in the way we talk, think and act on dementia will help to transform lives."