Barry Cohen, former Hawke government minister, calls for more to be done in search for dementia cure
Published at http://www.abc.net.au/news by Tracey Bowden: The 7.30 Report.
Former Hawke government minister Barry Cohen has revealed he has dementia and is calling on the Federal Government to do more in the search for a cure.
“People like Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten, and they are both friends of mine, they have got to put it on the front pages,” Mr Cohen told 7.30.
“I want to see politicians standing up in the House and asking questions: what are we doing about Alzheimer’s?”
Later on in the interview:
Initially he was placed into a nursing home, an experience he would rather forget.
“I was miserable as a bandicoot, you have no idea how depressed I would get,” he said.
“There is nothing to do, you lie on the bed, stare at the ceiling, eat three meals a day and watch television.”
While there are medications that can control some of the symptoms of dementia, there is no drug that can stop or reverse the disease.
“We’ve got to get serious about this at the top level, and I am not talking about Labor or Liberal – they are both the same, they are just becoming aware that we are facing a real crisis and we have to act now ’cause in 20 years’ time there won’t be 300,000 there will be 900,000 and maybe more,” Mr Cohen said.
“We don’t hesitate about spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a submarine, for God’s sake.
“I’d rather have a few thousand people alive than a submarine.”
In the 2014 budget the Federal Government committed an extra $200 million to Australian scientists and medical researchers working on ways to prevent or cure dementia, but Mr Cohen wants more.
“Let’s try and find a cure,” he said. “We have put aside $200 million for research over the next five years.”
“Double it, treble it. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of people’s lives, and not just being alive but enjoying lives.”
He is still writing newspaper columns and hopes that by adding his voice to the call for more research, it might make a difference.
“People like me get it and we get others excited and then the media get onto it and then, bingo,” Mr Cohen said.
He is urging all Australians to join him in putting pressure on the politicians.
“Drive your local member mad – they didn’t mind driving me mad.”