South Korea will invest 200 billion won ($172 million) over the next nine years to conduct research on technologies for the diagnosis and treatment of dementia, the health ministry said Monday.
The investment plan was unveiled to mark World Alzheimer's Day, designated by the World Health Organization to boost public awareness of the degenerative brain disease.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare also said it will announce late this month the government's fourth comprehensive dementia management plan, which will last from 2021-25.
The plan will call for establishing a management system for dementia patients, further strengthening dementia control programs and other measures.
In addition, the master plan will include an "untact" dementia prevention and outdoor activity program to cope with the coronavirus outbreak, as well as the government's push to expand anti-dementia infrastructure. Dementia patients are known to be at a higher risk of succumbing to COVID-19.
South Korea has so far set up about 260 dementia consultation and screening centers across the nation, with more than 3.7 million people aged 60 or older, including 500,000 dementia patients, using them.
It has also established dementia clinics at 49 public nursing hospitals nationwide and amended the state health insurance system to cut the treatment cost of patients, the ministry said.
As of 2018, the number of dementia patients aged 65 or older came to slightly over 750,000, or 13.8 percent of the South Koreans in the age group. The figure is estimated to surpass 1 million in 2024, 2 million in 2039 and 3 million in 2050. (Yonhap)