The Ilkley Gazette reported on 20 November that hugely popular fantasy author Terry Pratchett would be delivering an 18,000-signature petition to Downing Street on 26 November, drawing attention to the scant level of Government funding for research into Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia. Apparently just three per cent of medical research funds go towards Alzheimer’s – even though 700,000 people in the UK are affected by the disease.
Earlier in the month Prime Minister Gordon Brown agreed during Prime Minister’s Questions to meet Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland (the Liberal Democrat spokesman for older people’s health) together with Pratchett and experts from the Alzheimer’s Research Trust to discuss the issue. The hope was that he’d be there to receive the petition, but apparently he wasn’t, according toThe Guardian:
No doubt the meeting will take place some time soon…
Pratchett – who was himself diagnosed with a rare early-onset form of the disease in late 2007 – has certainly put his money where his mouth is; he donated a million US dollars to Alzheimer’s research earlier this year. He’s on record as saying that he intends to “scream and harangue while there is time” to draw attention to the need for action on the disease.
Terry Pratchett’s novels are renowned for their funny but acutely satirical observations about society. With the UK’s and many other developed countries’ populations ageing rapidly, he certainly has a point this time. And there’s nothing funny about Alzheimer’s – for the people who suffer from it themselves or for their loved ones.
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