Alzheimer's disease, a chronic and progressive neurodegenerative disorder, affects millions of people all over the world. Aging remains to be the most important risk factor for the development of the disease. The rapid increase in the elderly population worldwide due to improving healthcare system is predictably accompanied by a rise in cases of Alzheimer's disease. The effect on the quality of life of the affected individual is devastating. The impact of Alzheimer's disease inevitably concerns caregivers and the society and the resulting caregiver burden and healthcare cost are overwhelming. The Philippines is likewise challenged with the epidemic of dementia and thorough preparation is necessary in order to confront this challenge competently.
The Dementia Society of the Philippines recognizes the many issues that need to be addressed when dealing with cognitive impairment and dementia. These include:
- Cognitive decline in the elderly;
- Assessment of Cognitive Impairment and Dementia in the Philippine setting;
- Alzheimer's disease and other dementias;
- Medical problems causing dementia i.e., the reversible dementias;
- Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms in Dementia (BPSD); and
- Rehabilitation and counseling.
In February 2002, Dr. Simeon Marasigan called on some colleagues in order to discuss the observation that more and more cases of dementia are encountered in clinical practice and the lack of awareness among laypeople and even physicians vis-à-vis this disorder. There is an existing dementia association in the Philippines , but its main thrust is in caregivers since it is primarily a lay association. From this meeting, the group conceptualized an organization composed of multi-specialty group of doctors with a special interest in dementia. On April 7, 2002 Dr. Simeon Marasigan met with Dr. Jacqueline Dominguez to formally plan the formation of this group.
On June 5, 2002 the Dementia Study Group was formed with the objective of conducting monthly scientific meetings on issues concerning cognitive impairment and dementia. The small group was composed of neurologists (Drs. Simeon Marasigan, Jacqueline Dominguez, Paulino Tenchavez and Encarnita Ampil), psychiatrists (Drs. Venus Arain, Dino Pena, Evangeline Gaddi and Norma Lazaro), geriatricians (Drs. Miguel Ramos, Maria Teresa Ramirez, Ida. Sibayan, Jullianne Erano, Eva Pantino), and an epidemiologist (Dr. Antonio Ligsay). This was supported by a corporate member, Ms. Merza Alejandrino of Novartis Philippines . Topics on dementia that were discussed in subsequent months included the following: epidemiology, genetics, molecular biology, risk factors, neuropathology, BPSD and evaluation through neuropsychological tests.
On November 25, 2002 the Dementia Study Group, headed by Dr. Simeon Marasigan, formally announced the inception of the Dementia Society of the Philippines (DSP). On January 22, 2003 an organizational meeting and election of officers of the DSP was held at the Rembrandt Hotel, Quezon City . Participants included 35 medical and allied specialists nationwide of different subspecialties (neurologists, psychiatrists, geriatricians, physiatrists, epidemiologists and family physicians). Corporate sponsors who supported the thrust of DSP were likewise present (Hi-Eisai Pharmaceutical Inc., Jannsen Pharmaceutica, Natrapharm Inc., Patriot Pharmaceutical Corp., Novartis Philippines, Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, Servier, and UCB Philippines, Inc)
On February 20, 2003 the first Scientific Meeting of the DSP which centered on Vascular Dementia sponsored by Natrapharm-Patriot Pharmaceutical Corp. was held at Annabelle's Restaurant in Quezon City . The event integrated the formal oath taking of the DSP officers and members.
The flurry of activities of the DSP followed in the succeeding months:
Second Scientific Meeting on Mild Cognitive Impairment on April 24, 2003 sponsored by UCB Philippines, Inc.;
Third Scientific Meeting on Research Methodology on June 26, 2003 sponsored by Hi-Eisai Pharmaceutical Inc.; and
Fourth Scientific Meeting on BPSD on August 28, 2003 sponsored by Janssen Pharmaceutica.
The officers and members of the DSP were steadfastly thinking of how to better upgrade the society and improve knowledge dissemination on dementia. The group believed that it was time to hold an annual convention to further strengthen their thrust. On September 26, 2003 the First Annual Philippine Conference on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders was held. The success of this meeting further ignited the force of the organization which led to the formation of the Mission and Vision of the Dementia Society of the Philippines on November 23, 2003 .
The DSP recognize that the care of individuals with dementia does not only involve physicians. Allied specialists have a special role in the wholistic management of dementia. It is for this reason that the Allied Specialist Group was formed on December 2, 2004 . Henceforth, both organizations have worked together to fulfill the thrust that was set by the DSP.
Thus, the Dementia Society of the Philippines was born, raised and nurtured by the strong ideals of its officers and members. It is an organization that is shaped to hone the knowledge and skills of medical and paramedical specialists in dementia. Its ultimate purpose is to better serve the people confronted with dementing illnesses and to lessen societal burden.