Atlantic Philanthropies has announced two grants totaling €14.7 million ($19.67 million) to help improve the care and well-being of people in Ireland suffering from dementia.
The grants will support government-funded programs in the Health Service Executive (more than $16 million) and the Health Research Board ($3.6 million). According to the World Health Organization, 35.6 million people globally are living with dementia — a figure that is expected to double by 2030 and triple by 2050 — making it the leading cause of dependency and disability among the world's older population. In Ireland, it is estimated that 42,000 people suffer from dementia — a number that is projected to rise to 68,000 by 2021 and 152,000 by 2046.
While Atlantic is still discussing the specific focus of the grants with the Irish government, key elements of the funding are likely to include support for research and efforts to give a voice to those suffering from dementia, said Mary Sutton, Atlantic's country director in Ireland. "We are good at devising strategy in Ireland, but the key is implementation and follow through," she added. "In the global fight against the epidemic that is dementia, the aspiration is that Ireland could be at the forefront of this."
As it enters the final phase of spending down its endowment, Atlantic is targeting a handful of challenges that it has historically addressed, said the foundation's president and CEO, Christopher G. Oechsli. "A very few significant investments are being made in initiatives that are at or building toward a tipping point, where catalytic efforts are most likely to expand and sustain opportunity and create more equitable outcomes. These culminating Atlantic grants, therefore, will be especially important for those, like people suffering from dementia, who are vulnerable and face particularly difficult obstacles."