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SAF petitions government to make dementia, alzheimer a public health priority |07 September 2023

The Seychelles Alzheimer's Foundation has launched a petition urging the Ministry of Health to establish comprehensive services for individuals affected by alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

As of yesterday, the online petition hosted on the platform has garnered 219 signatures, accompanied by a number of comments from individuals personally touched by these conditions, as well as others endorsing the cause.

The primary objective of the petition is to encourage the government to adopt policies aimed at enhancing the wellbeing of those living with dementia and alzheimer’s, as well as their caregivers. It champions their fundamental human right to receive early diagnosis and assistance.

It specifically calls on the Ministry of Health to elevate dementia as a top priority in public health, advocating for the creation of suitable housing and services, while ensuring that staff receives adequate training to support those in need of long-term care.

Furthermore, it urges the establishment of a care facility for persons with the conditions, which will enable families and caregivers to find relief from their regular caregiving responsibilities.

In 2018, an agreement was reached through a memorandum of understanding between the former Ministry of Health and the Seychelles Alzheimer's Foundation (SAF). The agreement aimed to allocate a dedicated section within the North East Point Regional Hospital for the Elderly. However, progress on this front has come to a standstill.

Caregivers are in dire need of a reliable entity to look after their cherished family members, and the establishment of a Memory Care Home, a cause that the SAF has passionately championed since its inception, is the most viable solution, said SAF patron, Lise Church.

Committee member, Nâne Lionnet emphasised the pressing requirement for specialised services due to a rising number of cases.

“We find that more and more families are struggling with dementia sufferers. Ideally, it is good to have dementia sufferers being cared for at home, but not everyone can provide such care. We need somewhere that provides specialised care,” Ms Lionnet noted.

Coping with dementia and alzheimer’s disease can be challenging and emotionally straining. Persons living with the condition may require help with personal care and day-to-day activities.

Specialised dementia care is beneficial for individuals living with dementia, offering tailored support through activities and therapies like reminiscence therapy, dietary modifications, physical exercises, and assistance in managing challenging behaviours.

Lacking early diagnostic tools, the SAF, when receiving requests for help, administers a brief assessment to determine if individuals exhibit specific symptoms. Additionally, they facilitate referrals to healthcare professionals who provide further assistance.

Seychelles is yet to introduce dementia care policy. The World Health Organisation (WHO) urges governments to develop national policies and a comprehensive government plan on dementia, by 2025.

According to WHO, currently more than 55 million people have dementia worldwide, and there are nearly 10 million new cases each year. Alzheimer’s disease International (ADI) expects that the figure will increase to 78 million in 2030, and 139 million in 2050.

SAF was established in 2016. It provides support and help to families touched by the conditions. Moreover, it organises training sessions for caregivers, at least four times a year.

SAF is planning to have a neurologist, Yared Zenebe Zewde, come to Seychelles to support it in its efforts, later this year.


Laura Pillay




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