THREE years after unveiling a five-year plan to tackle Alzheimer’s
with a €1.6 billion package for research, respite care homes and the
training of carers, President Sarkozy’s government has fallen short in its expected investment.
The news is a blow for charity campaigners and comes as Mr Sarkozy
recognised the courage of the late actress Annie Girardot in publicising the disease and how it affected her.
She died just days after he spoke in Bordeaux to detail progress on the plan.
Mr Sarkozy pointed to research into Alzheimer’s, saying they had spent €72m of the €140m set aside for research and had seen significant results with the discovery of four genes predisposing to the disease.
Between €300m and €400m had also been spent by the state and
Assurance Maladie over the three years, with about half going on improving the treatment of patients in old people’s homes and hospitals.
In total, the government was creating 45,000 places, either new beds or adapted from existing units.
It was also developing respite care centres, where patients could be
cared for while their families took a break from the 24-hour-a-day task.
However, the France Alzheimer charity said that, in the first two
years of the plan, less than half of the expected €518 million had been spent and, while figures for 2010 are still to be revealed, it hoped that the pace of spending would increase over the second half of the plan’s life.
Alzheimer’s affects 860,000 people across France and there are 225,000 new cases every year. It is feared that, without action, it could strike 1.3m people by 2020 and 2.1m by 2040.
More than three million are affected by it through family or friends.
Mr Sarkozy said the battle against Alzheimer’s was his “moral obligation, a duty of public health and an economic obligation, because the cost to the country was much worse if we do not know the cause”.
The present five-year plan is to be followed by a second plan. Mr Sarkozy also said that researchers were planning a Europe-wide project, to be announced later this year.
However, care groups say that money has not matched the claims
and that the president has not delivered on his promises to provide better care facilities, specialised nursing homes or day care.
France Alzheimer president Marie-Odile Desana said the government
had to move up a gear and provide effective help for families, especially by training carers.
She said that the provision of respite care was far from uniform across the country, and temporary care placements were insufficient.