Dr. Saskia Sivananthan

Plenary: Can we be optimist? The global state of dementia planning

Dementia is a global public health concern with serious social and economic costs.  While we do not yet have a cure for dementia, there have been significant developments in our understanding of the disease, and most importantly, in how to care for people with dementia.  This session will provide an overview of ongoing work on dementia occurring globally including insights into the priorities of the WHO’s Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia and the WHO Global Dementia Observatory, a data and knowledge exchange platform.  At the end of the session you can decide, do we have reason to be optimistic about the future of dementia?


Saskia Sivananthan, PhD, is a neuroscientist and health data scientist who uses population-level data to understand aging.  She works in health system development and with governments on health services, policy and strategies to improve health for older adults with complex needs and those with dementia.  As a senior strategy and policy advisor she currently consults for the World Health Organization on its overall global dementia strategy. Saskia co-drafted the WHO’s Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia which recently received unanimous support and was adopted at the 170th World Health Assembly by all 194 member states.  It identifies key priorities and tangible actions for countries to transform their health systems and frames the agenda for global collaboration.  She and her team are also responsible for developing the WHO Global Dementia Observatory, an online platform for collating data to support countries to develop evidence-based policies in dementia and monitoring progress toward targets proposed in the dementia action plan.  An active researcher, Saskia holds a PhD from the School of Population and Public Health from the University of British Columbia and an MSc in Neurology and Neuroscience from McGill University.