(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Your Imperial Highness,
Your Royal Highness,
Madam First Ladies,
Ladies and gentlemen,
What a pleasure to stand before this gathering of people, from all across the globe, after having shared this day with you, here at the Royal Palace of Stockholm!
May I also say how delighted I am at the opportunity to address such a distinguished group of participants.
Dementia is one of the largest, most complex and challenging health issues facing humanity today. Therefore, it fills me with hope to see the commitment that exists for this cause.
For well over two decades, I have been an advocate for improved care and quality of life for people living with dementia and their loved ones.
Looking back at the time that has gone by, I am grateful for the progress that science has made. Never before have we had so much knowledge about dementia diseases as we do today. And never has there been a greater ambition and determination to fight them.
And still, in spite of all this, we seem to be inept to find a tangible solution to this problem – at least for the time being.
Over the course of the past few years, we have seen repeated failures in the development of a disease modifying treatment. And we have not yet received any truly ground-breaking news to pin our hopes on.
We seem to find ourselves in a stalemate of sorts, with a group of diseases that are afflicting an ever-growing amount of people.
However: This January, the World Economic Forum had a session on dementia in Davos. In 2017 the WHO launched the Global Action Plan on Dementia, adopted by all member states. And today they launched the Guidelines for Dementia Risk Reduction, right here at the Royal Palace.
Furthermore, over thirty nations have created and launched national dementia plans, and as many have committed to do so over the coming years.
And just a few weeks ago, researchers in the United States identified a new form of dementia, which they hope will hold more keys to the causes and possibly even future treatments.
And this is the main point I want to make here today: While we may feel that there is little cause for celebration, there are encouraging examples of the opposite; of developments that have been achieved through the uniting of minds – by coming together to make a difference.
Another example might very well be this very meeting – Dementia Forum X - which has become something extraordinary, on the very same premise: the will to make a difference and change the current situation for those living with dementia.
As you may know, my own dedication to the dementia cause is rooted in personal experience. When my mother lived her last years with dementia, we were fortunate to have the support of skilled and experienced carers, who also provided us with a way to understand how to support both my mother and our family members.
However, I came to understand that this was not always the case when someone was diagnosed with dementia. That we had, in fact, been lucky. And so, I decided to dedicate myself to this cause.
In 1996, we founded the Silviahemmet Foundation, with the ambition to create training tailored to those who work closest to the patient, the nursing assistants. The long-term goal was to expand that ambition to entail the entire care chain, from the aforementioned nursing assistants, through nurses and physicians, but also all other care professions that are part of the dementia eco-system.
This is an ambition that we have achieved here in Sweden. Today, Silviahemmet together with our academic partners offer highly specialized training for these groups, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists and even case workers.
In addition to this, we have adapted our care philosophy into a certification standard for care institutions. As of today, we have certified hundreds of units in Sweden and abroad.
Some fifteen years after founding Silviahemmet, we saw that the demand for this knowledge was not limited to Sweden. There was an opportunity for us to share our philosophy and know-how with other countries. And so, Swedish Care International was formed.
Since then, we have established training and other types of knowledge-sharing in twelve different countries around the world. And just this May, we will begin one of our largest certifications abroad, in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
We have also developed and launched three free-of-charge mobile applications targeting caregivers and family members, to aid them as much as possible in their lives as carers.
Furthermore, through the international scholarship Queen Silvia Nursing Award, we strive to motivate nursing students in four different countries to utilize their own innovative mind-set to improve the care of elderly and people living with dementia.
And finally, returning to Dementia Forum X, this meeting is also a product of the ambition to serve as a platform for international collaboration and knowledge sharing – which, to me, seems to be the only way forward to really achieve lasting change.
Looking out across this room, I see royalty, ministers, world renowned scientists and representatives from some of the largest organizations in the world. And I am humbled by the fact that in this short time, we have reached another one of the goals that we had set – to be able to connect and collaborate across borders, disciplines and other barriers, driven by our joint vision to create change and improve lives of our fellow humans.
So that those living with dementia can live their best possible lives and future generations only need to know of it as a disease of the past.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners, who make this day possible, and especially the World Health Organization, Alzheimer’s Disease International, Alzheimer’s Society, the World Dementia Council and the Alzheimer’s Association. Your leadership is an inspiration.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am deeply touched by your commitment to this cause. Thank you all for being here today and for sharing your knowledge with the rest of us. I look forward to the continued dialogue later this evening.