For immediate release
The 4th ADI Non-Latin Caribbean Conference on Alzheimer’s and other Dementias started on Thursday 8th June 2017 with an Opening Ceremony attended by His Excellency, Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona ORTT, SC, President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the Honourable, Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health. The event was hosted by the Alzheimer’s Association of Trinidad and Tobago (AzATT) in conjunction with Alzheimer’s disease International (ADI), the international federation of Alzheimer’s Associations around the world. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Dementia in the Caribbean: No Time to Lose’
The President delivered a very deep and thought-provoking feature address. He reflected on the startling data that by the year 2050 approximately one million people in the Caribbean region will be affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other Dementias. He stated that “a crisis awaits us” and that “we together as a region must face this challenge as one Caribbean people”. He called for solutions which “lie in a sound, strategic and united approach by State Agencies and Institutions, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), a progressive and proactive political will and civil society through information, education, research and compassion”.
This Conference serves to invoke an urgent, much needed regional mandate, to stakeholders and movers and shakers in governance, to confront and alleviate the personal and social challenges associated with Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the Region. It provides for a laudable objective, that is, the launch of a regional organization, The Alzheimer’s Associations of the Caribbean (AAC). This Association ultimately will provide for the advocacy that will raise much needed awareness, inform, educate, devise action plans, lobby and support persons with Alzheimer ’s disease and Dementia. The hope is, that such will trigger and enhance healthcare systems in the Caribbean region that will incorporate not only the customary primary, emergency and preventive care but specifically an elderly care involving Hospice Care, new drugs and experimental drugs. There is a growing global recognition of the need for universal healthcare and the imperative, that it must be grounded in inclusivity, accessibility and quality healthcare”.
The Honourable, Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health gave ‘Trinidad and Tobago’s Response to the Dementia Pandemic’. The Minister described dementia as “an equal opportunity enemy because it does not discriminate”. He recognized the absence of data in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean but extended an open invitation to AzATT’s President, Ann Smith, to work together to address dementia and gave his commitment to working with AzATT to develop the first National Dementia Plan in the Caribbean Region.
During their ‘Welcome Remarks’ AzATT’s President, Ann Smith who posed the question “Why are we here?” and suggested the need for greater concern for those afflicted and affected by dementia. ADI’s Vice Chairman, Dale Goldhawk conveyed greetings from Canada. Norma Inniss, Conference Chair, Immediate Past President and Founder of AzATT, spoke about the ‘Development of Alzheimer’s Associations in the Caribbean’. Marc Wortmann, ADI’s outgoing Executive Director addressed the gathering on the topic ‘Dementia, a Global, Regional and National Public Health and Social Development Priority’.
The event was attended by delegates of eleven Alzheimer Associations in the region, their members and supporters, health and social care professionals, researchers, specially invited guests and interested persons from the general public. Dr. Raymond Jessurun summed up the Opening Ceremony as “dementia-friendly”.