Yesterday the US Senate passed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) (S. 3036), taking an important step toward addressing Alzheimer’s disease, the public health crisis of the 21st century.
Pushed through under bi-partisan leadership, the country is one step closer to laying the groundwork for a national strategic plan to address the Alzheimer’s epidemic. NAPA calls for a coordinated effort across the federal government to combat the crisis across the broad spectrum of the disease from research, to care, to institutional services and to home and community based programs. The bill now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives.
In January 2011, the baby boomer generation will begin to turn 65, entering the years of greatly increased risk for Alzheimer’s. One in eight baby boomers, or 10 million Americans, will develop Alzheimer’s disease. The personal and health care costs is expected to run in the multi-billions as a result of multiple years of care often required for sufferers.
Who what are the elements of this initiative? The National Alzheimer’s Project Act will establish an initiative within the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) the Office of the National Alzheimer’s Project to:
(1) accelerate the development of treatments that would prevent, halt, or reverse the course of Alzheimer’s;
(2) create and maintain an integrated national plan to overcome Alzheimer’s;
(3) help to coordinate the health care and treatment of citizens with Alzheimer’s;
(4) ensure the inclusion of ethnic and racial populations that are at higher risk for Alzheimer’s or that are least likely to receive care in clinical, research, and service efforts with the purpose of decreasing health disparities;
(5) coordinate with international bodies to integrate and inform the fight against Alzheimer’s globally; and
(6) provide information and coordination of Alzheimer’s research and services across all federal agencies. Sets forth the duties of the Director of the Office, including the use discretionary authority to evaluate all federal programs concerning Alzheimer’s. Establishes in the Office an Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment.