Another technically muddled report from the BBC: Dementia cases 'are set to soar'."
I think they should hire a good statistician.
Where shall I begin? Let's take their first comment about the comparison between China's rate of dementia and that of Western Europe and North America:
The report said most people living with dementia are in the developing world, with five million in China alone.
This compares with 4.8 million in Western Europe and 3.4 million in North America.
Since China has well over a billion people in their population, it would be much more enlightening to give percentages in this comparison.
Now, as to the rate of increase:
The study also highlighted how the rate of growth of dementia in the developing world already far exceeds that of richer countries.STUDY PREDICTIONS 60% of people with dementia live in developing countries This figure will rise to 71% by 2040 The numbers in developed countries are set to increase by 100% between 2001 and 2040 In India, China, and their south Asian and western Pacific neighbours rates will rise by more than 300% during this period.
The increase is predicted to be three to four times higher in developing regions than in developed areas.
By 2040 there will be as many people with dementia in China alone as in the whole of the developed world put together.
Here, we must look at where the knee of the curve relating dementia to age lies. It clearly lies at a level substantially higher than the average life expectancy in China, while in developed nations, this point of the curve has already been passed. This conclusion should be clear from the final statement in the above quote, since China's population is roughly comparable to the total of the populations in all the developed countries. Thus, we may interpret this final comment to read, "By 2040, the percentage of people with dementia in China will roughly equal that of the developed world." This picture is, of course, complicated by the causes of lower life expectancy.
Now, statistical comparisons, aside, the alarm raised over the challenge to the medical system is quite legitimate. China and other developing nations will need to ramp up their infrastructure to deal with a problem that hasn't been that significant, until recently.
Then again, by 2040, perhaps dementia will largely be eliminated and we'll all be dealing with an entirely different class of problems.
For a more careful examination of such comparisons, I refer the reader to "Forecasting the Demand for Health Care in China," by Robert W. Fogel of the University of Chicago, National Bureau of Economic Research. [Yes, I got this report from a Chinese web site.]