Shaping the response to dementia in low- and middle-income countries

At a time when the world can see how vulnerable many older people are to health shocks, it is imperative to plan proactively
- Professor Martin Knapp

LSE researchers are leading efforts to develop the global response to dementia as part of the Strengthening Responses to Dementia in Developing Countries (STRiDE) project.

Working in collaboration with researchers and NGOs in seven countries - Brazil, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico and South Africa - the STRiDE project is providing research evidence to support the development, financing, planning, implementation and evaluation of National Dementia Plans across participating countries.

Dementia poses significant challenges to health and care systems across the globe but is often thought of as a ‘disease of affluence’, primarily affecting high-income countries. However, by 2050 it is predicted that there will be 90 million people with dementia in low- and middle-income countries.

This presents acute challenges for these countries as they undergo rapid development and face rising costs for care provision, particularly as economic development often diminishes the availability of unpaid family care that has historically been the mainstay of support for many older people. 

The STRiDE project, led by the Care Policy and Evaluation Centre at LSE with funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), has addressed this issue by bringing together researchers and NGOs to develop the knowledge and skills required to create dementia strategies and policies tailored to the specific needs of their own countries. This involves providing formal training in the research methods required to; create credible estimates of the costs and impacts of dementia, project the services required to meet future dementia care needs and assess the costs and impacts of interventions.

It also involves bringing together global and local experience and evidence to better understand what tools and policies might work in raising awareness and reducing stigma associated with dementia in these countries. 

Professor Martin Knapp, STRiDE project lead said: “At a time when the world can see how vulnerable many older people are to health shocks, it is imperative to plan proactively to meet needs in ways that are appropriate and sustainable. In STRiDE we are working to achieve this,”

Adelina Comas-Herrera, STRiDE co-lead said: “Ensuring people living with dementia and their care partners can live well requires bringing together advocates, care providers and government to develop a shared vision of how we can improve on what is available now. STRiDE partners are generating research evidence to support the dementia policy development process and we are delighted to see how this work is beginning to bear fruits.”

Underpinning STRiDE’s work is its focus on enabling real change. Members of the STRiDE project met in London earlier in the year to discuss how their research can feed into national dementia policies across the globe and how in countries, such as Kenya, this is already happening. 

They also contributed to a new documentary produced by Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) 'Hope in the Age of Dementia'. Filmed at LSE, the film explores the latest global developments around dementia and showcases how the STRiDE project is driving innovation in dementia policy globally.

The STRiDE project continues until 2022.