Monday, April 4, 2011

A Canadian Brain Health Strategy

In 2008, a new dementia case was diagnosed every 5 minutes in Canada. In 2039, this will occur every 2 minutes. Alzheimer’s disease alone affects 500,000 Canadians and costs us $15 billion per year, in addition to incalculable emotional strain on caregivers and loved ones.

This “rising tide” is impacting Canadian families of every walk of life and the trend will continue to grow. The toll is already considerable, both on families and on the Canadian economy, in terms of lost productivity.

A Liberal government will consult with provinces, stakeholders and experts, and put in place a Canadian Brain Health Strategy in its first year in office. Its main objective will be helping Canadian families cope and it will encompass such diseases as Alzheimer’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson’s Disease. The Strategy will include the following elements:

Awareness, Education and Prevention.We will develop a public education campaign to encourage good brain health throughout life, including better understanding of how proper diet, physical and mental exercise slow down the decline of brain health. Public education efforts will also combat the social stigma attached to brain disease, and mental health problems.

Research. $100 million over the first two years of a Liberal government will be invested in the Canadian Brain Health Strategy, targeting research into new treatments and therapies for neurological disorders, and accelerating progress in understanding, treating and preventing brain diseases. This investment of new federal funds will be channelled through leading national research bodies.

Income security. We will conduct a review to identify potential measures needed to prevent brain disorders from forcing families and individuals into poverty. The Liberal plan for Family Care will make a significant difference, but more may be needed in the longer term to help the growing numbers of affected Canadian families cope.

Integrated Treatment and Support. We will disseminate knowledge and best practices to foster improvements in the quality of treatment and support for patients and families coping with brain disorders.

Preventing Genetic Discrimination. Today, even people without symptoms can be denied life, mortgage and disability insurance and even rejected for employment based on genetic testing that shows risk of future illness. A Liberal government will introduce measures, including possible legislative change, to prevent this discrimination.

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