Brain Health a Public Health priority

Brain Health is already a key component of Public Health overall but with the aging of the worldwide population it will become a Public Health priority and should be a priority on all Political agendas.

Beside this new demographic challenge, influences of new environmental factors should also be taken into consideration on overall Brain Health.


Healthcare systems have to face:

a- Challenge of Ageing populations:

The world's population of people 60 years of age and older has doubled since 1980 and is forecast to reach 2 billion by 2050

Between 2000 and 2050, the proportion of the world's population over 60 years of age will double from about 11% to 22%. The absolute number of people aged 60 years and over is expected to increase from 605 million to 2 billion over the same period.

It is important to highlight that it took more than 100 years for the share of France's population aged 65 or older to double from 7 to 14%. In contrast, it will take countries like Brazil and China less than 25 years to reach the same growth. With the increase of longevity some disease will have a stronger impact on the community.

Some diseases such as Alzheimer are therefore closely studied. In 2006, the worldwide prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease was 26.6 million. By 2050, the prevalence will quadruple, by which time 1 in 85 persons worldwide will be living with the disease 1.

The United Nation Report prepared by the Population Division as a contribution to the 2002 World Assembly on Ageing has showned the following:

1-Population ageing is unprecedented, without parallel in human history—and the twenty-first century will witness even more rapid ageing than did the century just past.

2- Population ageing is pervasive, a global phenomenon affecting every man, woman and child—but countries are at very different stages of the process, and the pace of change differs greatly. Countries that started the process later will have less time to adjust.

3-Population ageing is enduring: we will not return to the young populations that our ancestors knew.

4-Population ageing has profound implications for many facets of human life.

The proportion of older persons is projected to more than double worldwide over the next half century.

By the year 2050, more than 1 in every 5 persons throughout the world is projected to be aged 60 or over, while nearly 1 in every 6 is projected to be at least 65 years old.

Europe is currently the world’s major area with the highest proportions of older persons and is projected to remain so for at least the next 50 years.

About 37 per cent of the European population is projected to be 60 or over in 2050, up from 20 per cent in 2000. Almost 30 per cent is projected to be 65 or over, up from 15 per cent in 2000. People aged 60 or over currently constitute from one fifth to nearly one fourth of the population of Austria, Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Japan, Slovenia and Spain.

In the more developed regions the number of persons aged 60 or over will increase by about 70 per cent, from 231 million in 2000 to 395 million in 2050. In contrast, in the less developed regions the older population will more than quadruple during this same period, from 374 million to 1.6 billion.

By 2050, nearly four fifths of the world’s older population will be living in the less developed regions (figure 12)

b- Rise of chronic disease and co-morbidity:

Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, are by far the leading cause of mortality in the world, representing 60% of all deaths.

Obesity, which can lead to heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer, costs the U.S. $147 billion annually in 2008 dollars. It has been projected that, by 2020, chronic diseases will account for almost three-quarters of all deaths worldwide, and that 71% of deaths due to ischaemic heart disease (IHD), 75% of deaths due to stroke, and 70% of deaths due to diabetes will occur in developing countries 2. Furthermore overweight has been found to be a risk factor for dementia particularly Alzheimer Disease in women 3.


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