Alzheimer’s: Bigger than Ebola?

In a recent blog, David Satcher, former director of the CDC and former Surgeon General, likens the Alzheimer’s epidemic to Ebola.

When Ebola became an obvious threat, the US response showed how quickly we can react in a time of crisis.  A lesson from the story underlines the importance of being proactive.  If the US had already funded Ebola-related research at the NIH, it’s possible that we’d be responding to the current crisis with vaccines.

Satcher feels that we are facing an even greater health crisis.  Alzheimer’s.  He believes that our response has been weak and unsatisfactory.   AD already represents a disaster for millions of Americans, and the issue has for the most part been ignored.  Like Ebola, it is a huge threat to public welfare and the economy.

The threat of Alzheimer’s is completely under-=recognized.  It’s fatal and it cannot be cured, prevented or even slowed.  Yet we have dedicated a paltry amount of money to research.  In the recent Ebola crisis the administration requested $6 billion for research.  That’s more than what the federal government spent on Alzheimer’s in the last 10 years.

We estimate that half a million Americans will die this year due to Alzheimer’s.  As sad as that is, the effects of the disease are more far reaching.  Care for Alzheimer’s  costs the US almost $220 billion per year.

Our ability to conquer the threat of Alzheimer’s is not being held back by lack of ideas, but by lack of funding.  For every $100 spent by the National Institute of Health on research, we spend (via Medicare and Medicaid) $26,500 on care.

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