Mrs Esther Dey, Executive Director of Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Association of Ghana (ARDAG), says education on dementia, a medical condition, is most needed in the country.
She said this was mainly because symptoms of the condition easily make sufferers look like witches in the eyes of people, who are ignorant of the condition and superstitious as well.
Mrs Dey said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, following a conference on dementia, organised by Alzheimer’s Ghana in Tema.
It was on the theme: “Combating Dementia in 21st Century Ghana-the silent epidemic.”
She recounted an incident in the country a few years ago, when an old lady who had lost her way and was incoherent in her speech, was killed by some people, who accused her of being a witch.
“Some knowledge of dementia would have made them know that she rather needed help and saved her life,” she said.
Mrs Dey said a good understanding of the condition by the public, could also have saved many who have been accused of being witches, from being thrown into witches camps by their family members.
She said the word “dementia” cover a number of symptoms concerning certain illnesses of the brain.
Mrs Dey said the common forms of the condition includes Alzheimer’s disease, vascular, dementia with Lewy bodies and Pick’s disease.
She added that typical dementia symptoms are a gradual failure of the mental capacity of a person, typically in the area of memory, rational thought, communication among other indicators.
The World Health Organisation says the number of people suffering from dementia around the globe is expected to reach 65.7 million sufferers by 2030.
Mrs Dey said: “By 2050, it is likely to rise by 70 per cent above today’s figure of 35.6 million sufferers, and it is expected that 7.7 million new cases of dementia would be reported each year – with a new person diagnosed every four seconds.”
She said the estimated annual cost of treatment and care is 604 billion dollars.
Mrs Dey said unfortunately, there is not much information on dementia in Ghana because the condition is not recognised as an illness.
She said the distortion; result in misdiagnoses, adding that Alzheimer’s Ghana would vigorously campaign to raise awareness concerning the condition, and also partner with the government, concerned individuals and organisations, to create a better understanding for dementia.