Alzheimers New Zealand
November 15, 2001
Alzheimer’s Medication A Human Rights Issue
A coalition of interest groups met in Wellington this week to discuss working collectively on the human rights issue of
Government subsidisation for anti-Alzheimer’s medication.
Elizabeth Chesterman, National Director of Alzheimers New Zealand and facilitator of the coalition group said that,
“Although each group represents a special interest, a common objective is the fundamental human right for New Zealanders
to be provided with ‘best care’.”
Members of the coalition include Alzheimers New Zealand, Greypower, Age Concern, Parkinson’s New Zealand, The New
Zealand Faculty of Psychiatry of Old Age and The Memory Clinic, Waitemata Health.
There are currently around 38,000 people in New Zealand suffering from Dementia and with an aging population the numbers
are expected to double in the next 20 years.
“Access to medication affects some 100,000 New Zealanders because it impacts not only the people coping with the disease
but their family members, friends and caregivers as well. And it is this collective voice that is speaking out for
subsidisation and quality of life,” said Elizabeth Chesterman.
“Treatment gives many people extra and precious time together. That is all this coalition group is asking – the
opportunity for New Zealanders to have access to treatment that may delay the onset of the disease to give them quality
Studies have shown several advantages associated with the drugs, which in some cases can delay the progression of the
disease for up to three years.
The cost of medication is around $260 a month per patient - a substantial amount for people with limited incomes
Alzheimer New Zealand notes. However the cost of subsidising this medication is nominal when compared with the huge cost
of rest home and other means of extended community care.
Alzheimers New Zealand is increasingly aware of the growing number of people with Alzheimer’s and their families
speaking out on the difficulties they are facing in obtaining and funding the medication they required.
Immediately following the coalition meeting, Alzheimer New Zealand started to receive calls from other special interest
groups such as the Arthritis Foundation, pledging support.
“This is the first time I am aware of a variety of special interest groups working together on a single issue and it
demonstrates how strong the call is for the human right for access to Alzheimer medication.”
The coalition group is set to meet again, in Wellington, on December 11th to determine strategies and a plan of action.
For further information contact:
Alzheimer New Zealand
(03) 365 1590
(025) 226 0322