Brain disorders are set to become a major burden for society as a whole

Compared to a baseline in 2015, the number of Dutch people suffering from dementia or Parkinson’s disease will rise explosively during the period up to 2040. The Hersenstichting, the Dutch Brain Health Foundation, bases this prediction on data relating to brain disorders published by the RIVM (the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) in its 2018 Public Health Status and Forecasts Report. The figures suggest that, by 2040, the number of patients who have suffered a stroke, the number of dementia patients and the number of people suffering from Parkinson’s disease will increase by 54%, 115% and 71% respectively. This explosive increase will have a huge impact on society as a whole. 

In absolute numbers, the forecast for 2040 indicates that 672,600 Dutch people will have suffered a stroke and have to live with the consequences, 330,400 people will suffer from dementia and 82,600 people will have developed Parkinson’s disease in 20 years’ time. This means that the number of people suffering from dementia will have doubled relative to 2015. “And these are just three brain disorders out of several hundred that can occur”, says Merel Heimens Visser, the Hersenstichting's Director. “The positive news is that we have made enormous strides in the field of brain research in recent years, which will result in fewer Dutch people dying from disorders such as a stroke during the next twenty years. However, more people will have to learn to live with the consequences of this brain disorder. This will have a knock-on effect on society as a whole: patients, relatives, informal carers and healthcare professionals will increasingly have to deal with brain disorders and the associated effects.”

Investing in the future

At present, the nearly four million Dutch people suffering from a brain disorder represent an annual cost to society of 25 billion euros. Based on the projections in the official forecast, this number is expected to increase steadily in the coming years. “Science, the government, businesses and the rest of society will be significantly affected by this development in many different ways. Healthcare expenditure in the Netherlands will increase, more and more people at work will suffer from some form of brain disorder and relatives and others will have to provide more informal care for people suffering from a brain disorder”, says Professor Helmut Kessels, who lectures at the University of Amsterdam.

“So we all need to work together to create a future without brain disorders”, Merel Heimens Visser adds. “Because we will only be able to treat and prevent brain disorders in the future if we collaborate intensively. Rather than concentrating on a single disorder, we should invest in a broad spectrum of pioneering solutions that help prevent, slow or cure brain disorders. We must carry on investing in research, providing accurate information and improving patient care.”

Source: Hersenstichting

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