The UK government has called health ministers from the G8 nations to the first ever global summit on dementia to help improve management of the disease and accelerate the development of new treatments.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said this week they will use the UK’s presidency of the G8 this year to spearhead "coordinated global action" against one of the greatest current healthcare challenges. 

The high-level summit, which is to be held in London on December 11, will host discussion to shape an effective international solution to dementia, including looking for effective therapies and responses to slow dementia’s impact.

"While we continue to pursue tomorrow’s cures, it is critical now more than ever to pay serious attention to what we can do to reduce the average number of years living with the condition," said Hunt. The G8 have "a unique chance" to "help people manage dementia better, lead healthier lives and deliver real improvements in care and substantial economic savings".

Currently, someone is diagnosed with dementia every four seconds around the globe and the disease costs more than $650 billion a year. While 70% of this cost is incurred in 'medically advanced' nations like Western Europe and North America, nearly 60% of people with the condition live in developing countries. 

The Alzheimer's Society has welcomed the move. "Stepping up the global drive for a cure and better treatments must be a key priority," it said, and noted "it is staggering that worldwide, there are more clinical trials into hayfever than there are into some of the most common forms of dementia". 

"This summit is a huge opportunity to break down barriers and lead a global effort to defeat dementia but needs to be the start of clear action and commitments rather than just a one off", it stressed.