Dementia is a general term used to describe those brain diseases in which there is a disturbance of brain function causing problems such as difficulties with memory, thinking, communication skills and behaviour. It is a progressive illness with patients becoming more in need of help and support in performing everyday activities. In Malta, the number of individuals with dementia in 2015 was estimated to be 6,071, equivalent to 1.5 per cent of the general population. This figure is projected to reach 3.5 per cent of the population by the year 2050. This will bring about a significant demand not only on the health and social care services but also on society as a whole as most of the care for individuals with dementia is provided by family members who act as main caregivers.
The government, through its Parliamentary Secretariat for the Rights of Persons with Disability and Active Ageing, has launched its first National Strategy for Dementia in the Maltese Islands. This Strategy sets out a work programme for the next nine years to enhance the quality of life of individuals with dementia, their caregivers and family members through the implementation of a number of intervention streams in different priority areas including awareness and understanding of dementia, timely diagnosis, workforce development, research and dementia management and care. A dementia-friendly version is also available, in print form, with the aim of encouraging people with dementia to participate more fully in decisions that affect their lives.
The National Strategy for Dementia in the Maltese Islands (2015-2023) was officially launched by the Parliamentary Secretary for the Rights of Persons with Disability and Active Ageing on the 2nd of April 2015.