(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you madam Minister for your inspiring welcome address.
It gives me great pleasure to be able to make the opening speech at the first international Dementia Forum X and to welcome you all today. As you may know, the very first Dementia Forum X meeting was held in Stockholm in 2015, with the purpose of gathering stakeholders that together have the opportunity and the clout to make a difference in our joint ambition to improve lives of those living with dementia in as many ways as possible. The second Dementia Forum X was held two years later, in 2017, again in Stockholm at the Royal Palace. Standing here in Tokyo today, not even one year later, makes me very pleased and proud.
It is an incredible thing to see how the interest for and the dedication to this matter have grown over the last two decades and how that dedication and hard work lead to the furthering of the dementia cause in many different fields of society. Today’s meeting is another great testament to this.
In the momentous year of 1868, Sweden and Japan concluded a Treaty of Friendship, Navigation and Commerce. It was one of the first such treaties signed by the then young Meiji government. The celebration of these 150 years of bilateral relations form the backdrop of the current official visit being conducted by His Majesty the King and myself on the invitation of the Government of Japan.
Accompanying us on this trip is a large delegation of enterprises and organizations. They represent Swedish industry, its innovation power and its long tradition of international trade and collaboration. Sweden is a small country. As such, we thrive from an open economy that permits us to trade with other nations and to, perhaps more importantly, learn from others.
My relationship with dementia disease is a personal one, and the experiences I have had in my own family has shaped the way I look upon the disease as well as how it affects those who live with it and those around that person. These diseases are not purely medical. They are not just a matter of finding the right medication or treatment. They are rather, in all essence, social diseases that impose great strain on patients, families, caregivers and societies. Therefore, I am committed to doing my part in bringing all these stakeholders together, to meet the challenges with a joint view and vision.
Over 20 years ago I founded the Foundation Stiftelsen Silviahemmet, with the express purpose of educating and training caregiving professionals in dementia care. At first nursing assistants, thereafter nurses and today it has become a chain of care that spans from relatives and family caregivers to physicians and physiotherapists. All of this with the mindset that, when those who offer care to those living with dementia are more knowledgeable and have a higher skill set, the quality of life for the patient will improve. In addition to this, units trained in the Silviahemmet care philosophy exhibit less staff turnover, better communication and many other benefits.
Over time, the training provided by Stiftelsen Silviahemmet has attracted growing interest from other countries, including Japan. As a result, in 2011 we decided to create a possibility for foreign care providers and family caregivers to also be trained in the care philosophy of Silviahemmet and as such to spread the knowledge of Silviahemmet abroad. As a consequence of this decision, we founded Swedish Care International which is tasked with enabling internationalization of Silviahemmet and its training. Today, the training is available in many countries around the world and amongst these, Japan is a great example.
Our national education partner, Japan Swedish Care Institute or JSCI, under the leadership of Mr. Toshihiro Nakagomi has developed an education organization, offering our training at 14 different education centres across Japan and to date, it has trained over 75 000 persons. Furthermore, so far one Japanese physician has become a Silvia Doctor through the Karolinska Institute master’s program.
This development is one that I am particularly proud of and I hope that the exchange and knowledge-sharing between our two countries will continue for many years still.
Dementia Forum X is a meeting and a platform that is dedicated to creating dialogue, to inspiring individuals and organizations to make a difference and to the idea that together, through collaboration, we can achieve great things. Dementia Forum X is also about finding new ways of addressing old challenges. Today a few brilliant examples of such innovations will be presented. And I look forward to learning more about the fascinating developments made here in Japan when it comes to using new technology within the area of dementia.
It is my hope that today’s Forum will be a meeting place for ideas, for collaboration and for the furthering of our joint ambition to meet the challenges of dementia. As individuals, as caregivers and as countries. I hope that this day will be the initiation of many fruitful discussions leading to innovation and to cooperation that over time develops into new solutions to improve the lives of those living with dementia and their loved ones.
In conclusion, I would like to thank Mr. Hiroshi Nishino and our collaboration partner Westfield for their dedication to this project and for leading the work on bringing Dementia Forum X to Japan as a part of our efforts to make dementia a joint cause between people, countries and a matter of collaboration worldwide.
I would also like to thank all of you who have joined us here today, for your dedication to the cause and for working to improve the lives of those living with dementia.
I wish you all a fruitful day of dialogue and learning and I hope to be able to welcome you to Stockholm and the next Dementia Forum X in 2019.