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William Hu - “There’s a lot of good work going on, but not enough credit is given to the people”
William Hu - “There’s a lot of good work going on, but not enough credit is given to the people”
Mirva Villa 

“I hope that we can come up with a concrete action plan to disseminate and share the best practices in dementia-friendly initiatives and communities,” says William Hu, speaking on the third day of Changing Minds: Innovations in Dementia Care and Dementia.

Hu, an assistant professor of neurology at Emory University, has his eyes set on the future. Trained
as a neurologist and neuroscientist, Hu spends a lot of his time working toward improving the early diagnosis of dementia, and for the past two years has been involved in promoting dementia-friendly communities.

“We have been trying really hard to have an international forum where the lessons from the countries that have been doing dementia-friendly communities for some time can be shared with other countries that are just gearing up to do this.”

When Hu heard about this Salzburg Global session, he saw its potential in contributing to global efforts on improving dementia care.

“I was very excited when I heard that this was happening,” he says. “This really is a continuation of the global effort to talk about what a dementia-friendly community actually means, and how we get there.”

There are great efforts globally toward creating dementia-friendly initiatives and promoting inclusive communities, but several challenges hinder the rate of progress.

Hu says, “One is finding a driver for the initiative. Most of us are doing this as addition to our day jobs, and so finding somebody who will take it on as their primary focus has been a challenge not only felt in the States but also elsewhere.

“Number two, [the] challenge really is the resources and funding. How are you going to get the signage [and] the website hosting? How are you going to pay for travels to learn dementia-friendly practices from elsewhere?

“And finally, a huge challenge is convincing decision-makers that this is something worthwhile doing. The decision-makers usually have a set of goals of their own, and now we’re trying to convince them that having a dementia-friendly community or practice is a positive thing. But how do we compete with other goals such as profit margins, quality measures and the request of shareholders?”

Hu’s day job is closely linked to the dementia cause. His laboratory focuses on using spinal fluid, plasma imaging and neuropsychological measures to provide the most accurate diagnosis as early as possible.

“What that means is that whenever somebody has very mild symptoms of forgetfulness or word-finding difficulties, we can tell very early on whether the Alzheimer’s changes are present in the brain,” says Hu. Part of his research is patient-oriented, which has allowed him to frequently meet people with dementia, with the conversations going beyond the clinical responsibilities of Hu’s work.

“We get to hear a lot about their concerns on the day-to-day level, which is really what got me into dementia advocacy and dementia-friendly communities.”

Speaking further on what kind of actions he hopes to come out of the session, Hu hopes to see ways of recognizing and promoting the work of ordinary people in dementia care.

“I know firsthand that there’s a lot of good work going on but not enough credit is given to the people who do the good work. A lot of the time it’s the people who have been trained by the professionals, so it’s regular citizens doing the good work. How do we feature these people?”

Hu reflects on the story of two customs officers at Heathrow Airport, who went out of their way to help out a woman confused about where she was traveling. “I’m sure that was not in their job description, but they did it. So how do we reward them, and how do we provide incentives for others to follow their example? That’s what I’d like to get out of this.”

A lot remains to be done for dementia-friendly communities. What motivates Hu to keep working in this field?

“The spirit of people living with dementia and their caregivers. It’s very inspiring to talk to them and hear of their life’s accomplishments and what they still hope to accomplish in spite of the disease. There is a strong human will in illness that comes out, and I’m constantly humbled by interacting with people living with dementia and hearing what insight they have into the disease, but also bigger things in life.”


The session, Changing Minds: Innovations in Dementia Care and Dementia-Friendly Communities, is part of Salzburg Global Seminar multi-year series Health and Health Care Innovation in the 21st Century. This year’s session is held in partnership with The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice and The Mayo Clinic. To keep up to date with the conversations taking place during the session, follow #SGShealth on Twitter and Instagram.

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The Role of Arts in Mitigating the Impact of Dementia
The Role of Arts in Mitigating the Impact of Dementia
Salzburg Global Seminar 

The role of arts and culture can never be underestimated. The sector acts as a significant source of influence in many areas of society. On the fourth day of the Salzburg Global session, Changing Minds: Innovations in Dementia Care and Dementia-Friendly Communities, participants considered how the arts could mitigate the impact of dementia, improve communication, and enhance quality of life.

They were guided in their discussions by clinical health psychologist Paul Camic and neuropsychologist Sebastian Crutch. The conversation began with Camic providing an overview of the relationship between arts and dementia in the UK. Participants heard how various artists came together to undertake projects with people with dementia.

Crutch then reflected on the work of William Utermohlen, an American painter. After being diagnosed with dementia, he began painting a series of self-portraits. This enabled artistic reflection and exploration of what he was living with. Arts isn’t just a form of intervention, according to Crutch, it’s a part of life.

During the panel discussion, participants were introduced to several positive examples of art being used effectively. This included a nod to BBC Radio 3’s Why Music? residency, which saw presenters explore choral music and how it can help improve the lives of people with dementia.

Camic showed a clip from the film Alive Inside - A Story of Music and Memory, which reinforced this view. It highlighted how one elderly man became reinvigorated when listening to personalized music and found it easier to communicate. He benefited from a charity called Music & Memory.

In response to this clip, one participant asked whether there was potential to produce a similar film concentrating on the work taking place in developing countries.

Another participant said that if the film was shown in her country, members of the public would find it hard to believe what they saw.

She suggested the film could be used as a tool for raising further awareness and helping people with dementia.

Arts can play a role in breaking down the stigma surrounding dementia, providing communities further opportunities to engage with people with dementia.

Art programs should ensure people at different stages of dementia are included, one participant argued. One way to fix this could be to embed arts and music in the daily care of people living with dementia.


The session, Changing Minds: Innovations in Dementia Care and Dementia-Friendly Communities, is part of Salzburg Global Seminar multi-year series Health and Health Care Innovation in the 21st Century. This year’s session is held in partnership with The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice and The Mayo Clinic. To keep up to date with the conversations taking place during the session, follow #SGShealth on Twitter and Instagram.

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Salzburg Global Seminar mourns the loss of distinguished friend and Fellow Surin Pitsuwan
Salzburg Global Seminar mourns the loss of distinguished friend and Fellow Surin Pitsuwan
Tomás De La Rosa 

Surin Pitsuwan, multi-time Salzburg Global Fellow, has passed away in Bangkok following a heart attack at the age of 68 – just three weeks after he co-chaired a new program at Schloss Leopoldskron. A champion of Asia’s role in the global community, Pitsuwan was committed to sharing the lessons – and challenges – of Asia with the rest of the world. He leaves behind an invaluable legacy at international and regional level, and deeply impressed everyone who met him at Salzburg Global Seminar.

Born at Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand, in 1949, Pitsuwan dedicated his life to stability and sustainability in the Asian region. Graduating from Claremont College in California in political science in 1972, and earning a Master’s degree and Ph.D. from Harvard University, he attributed his success to the help others gave him and dedicated himself to work for those who were less fortunate than him.

Known for his commitment to democracy and regional identity, Pitsuwan entered politics in 1986 after being elected as a MP for his hometown, a seat he successfully defended for several terms. He went on to serve as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand from 1997 to 2001. Between 2008 and 2012, he served as Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a period that saw a significant improvement in the regional organization’s involvement in global affairs.

A participant in multiple Salzburg Global programs, Pitsuwan first became involved in 2013 at our special session on People, Peace and Planet in 2030: Shaping Inclusive and Sustainable Growth, held in Kyoto, Japan. He remained in close and regular contact with Salzburg Global as a speaker at four other sessions.

During his participation in the 2016 session on Leadership for Regional Cooperation in Asia for the 21st Century, Pitsuwan reflected on his time as ASEAN Secretary-General, saying, “Asian leadership needs to be transformative, trans-generational and transnational – it’s collective,” as he envisioned “a stronger, more effective, more confident and more unified East Asia.”

Most recently, his mission for a green and sustainable Asia became a driving force of Salzburg Global’s new multi-year series The Asia We Want: Building Community Through Regional Cooperation, which he helped launch in November 2017. During his keynote speech on A Clean and Green Asia, Pitsuwan said, “Asia is supposed to be living close to nature. That’s the wisdom of Buddha; that’s the wisdom of the Hindus; that’s the wisdom of Confucius: be close to nature, live with nature, go along with nature, and conform with nature.”

Pitsuwan attributed sharing his knowledge and helping break down barriers as the inspiration behind his work, saying, “You don’t live for yourself and by yourself alone, the worth and the meaning of your existence depends on your human network. Human networking can make you a good man or woman in the context of society, through it you can influence positive change in the lives, and the quality of such, of the people around you.”

“The value, and the meaning, of your own existence depends on your contribution, collaboration, and cooperation to make the life of others better. If my experience, inspirations, and knowledge are needed to help anybody, I would be willing to travel far and wide in order to share them. The passion to share with others is what has driven me, the satisfaction to know that I can be helpful and valuable to other people,” he added.

Motivated by the help he received in the past, Pitsuwan said, “You need to share what you have received from those who are good to you […] Ultimately, widening the circle of goodwill, to help others, to create opportunities, and support younger generations, is what we all should do as it is a major part of our humanity.”

Clare Shine, Salzburg Global Vice President and Chief Program Office said of Pitsuwan, “For such a prominent leader, Surin was a rare mix of intellect, enthusiasm and generosity, especially with rising younger talents. He often quoted W.B.Yeats’ famous line from The Second Coming: 'The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity,' urging people to join forces for a better world. Surin was a wonderful friend to me personally and to Salzburg Global Seminar. We will dearly miss his unique blend of conviction and passionate intensity.”  

He leaves his wife Alisa, three sons, and many friends across the world.

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Projects Involving Cross-Sector Collaboration Discussed at Hong Kong Leadership Program
Projects Involving Cross-Sector Collaboration Discussed at Hong Kong Leadership Program
Michelle Dai Zotti 

Hong Kong and its residents, once filled with optimism, are faced with a growing sense of uncertainty about the future. Rising inequality, low social mobility, and a growing generational divide are causing deep rifts in Hong Kong society. The younger generations, who feel not having benefitted from globalization and the territory’s growing integration with Mainland China, are challenging Hong Kong’s identity under the current political framework of “one country, two systems.” In addition, the World Economic Forum’s recently published 2016-2017 Global Competitiveness Index shows a drop in Hong Kong’s competitiveness, from seventh position to ninth, highlighting the city’s struggle to innovate and remain relevant on the global stage.

To discuss these issues, explore underlying tensions, and develop pathways moving forward, 25 young Hong Kong leaders from local government agencies, businesses and social enterprises, and civil society organizations participated in the Leadership for Inclusive Futures in Hong Kong leadership weekend program. The program developed by Salzburg Global Seminar in partnership with The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups and The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities was held from November 17 -19, 2017 in Hong Kong.

The intensive three-day program kicked off with a public event on Friday evening with Ahmad Alhendawi, Secretary-General of the World Scout Movement and Salzburg Global Fellow, providing a keynote speech. As the first-ever United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth and having held many other important positions in his early career, Alhendawi shared his personal experience in promoting youth engagement on the local, national, and international level. He called on organizations to open up to younger generations and encouraged the youth to “show up, speak up, engage and listen.” Alhendawi also stated that leaders should think bold and should serve others. The inspirational keynote speech was followed by a panel discussion on “Visions for an inclusive Hong Kong by 2030.”

The panel, moderated by Salzburg Global’s Vice President and Chief Program Officer Clare Shine, saw Alhendawi and two other distinguished guest speakers, Ronny Tong Ka-wah, non-official member at the HKSAR Executive Council, and Lau Ming-wai, chairman of the Commission on Youth, in Hong Kong, discussing the role of youth leadership in shaping a more sustainable and just future in Hong Kong and beyond.

The panel talked about the importance of thinking bold, having the courage to take risks, and the ability to create a following. There was disagreement on whether leaders are made or born but all panelists agreed that young people should be given the opportunity to experience and interact with new and different thinking stakeholders. The role of institutions is to provide exposure to young people and to change incentives within a society like in Hong Kong, where the education system is merely focused on measuring performance through testing and grades.

The program continued the following day giving the 25 selected local leaders the opportunity to learn from and engage with experts and dive deep into discussions about current tensions afflicting Hong Kong society and to analyze underlying issues of societal polarization.

During a panel discussion on “Fragmented Society: Social Cohesion and Identity in Hong Kong,” distinguished guest speakers described polarization as a global phenomenon and not a problem limited to Hong Kong.

One panelist spoke about the government’s role in serving not only as a service provider but also as a facilitating agent offering citizens opportunities to engage with officials online and offline and by appointing more young people to committees. At the same time, the speaker encouraged participants to engage and take advantage of resources provided by local government and Mainland China authorities.

According to one panelist, the biggest challenge currently faced by Hong Kong is to celebrate diversity in a united way under the “one country, two systems” framework, through which Hong Kong is given greater autonomy under China’s sovereignty. The speaker spoke about the need to try listening to and understanding each other, managing expectations, and focusing on promoting common objectives.

The second panelist spoke about globalization dividing our society into “winners” and “losers.” Those who cannot cope and are left disenfranchised by this ever-changing and interdependent “offline” world create new identities online finding others sharing the same belief. To counter this fragmentation of society, it is imperative to engage all people, including those who feel disenfranchised, through online and offline platforms.  

During a second panel on “Bridging Divides for an Inclusive Hong Kong: Conflict Mediation and Effective Advocacy,” experts with government experience shared suggestions and approaches to understanding and managing societal conflicts in the Hong Kong context.

Using a shared and agreeable terminology, finding an effective third-party mediator, keeping communication, listening, being empathetic, and focusing on common goals rather than demands and positions were some of the suggestions that the speakers shared with the group. It is increasingly difficult to disagree nowadays. People prefer to engage only with individuals thinking the same way, and difficult topics like race in the United States are being avoided. One of the panelists expressed the importance of disagreeing; the key is “to disagree without being disagreeable.”  

In the afternoon, the participants were divided into three groups. Facilitators walked each group through a different case study assignment that involved conflict transformation and has ongoing local relevance. Participants were asked to apply their personal experience and knowledge gained in the previous discussions and to work collaboratively to find an effective strategy. Each group shared a summary of their conversations.

At the end of the second day, participants were asked to think about who they don’t know how to talk to and to identify challenges that mattered most to them with the aim of encouraging participants to brainstorm potential topic proposal and project ideas. The participants organically divided into six groups discussing the following identified themes: ethnic minorities inclusion/elderly care; change; unaffordable housing; future of work; education; international exposure/competitiveness.  

On the final day of the program, experts presented and exposed participants to examples of local and global cross-sector partnerships through which specific issues have been tackled. The panelist encouraged the group to think of challenges as opportunities and to take advantage of resources made available in times of crises. The themes of focusing on shared goals, listening and understanding one another, and finding compromises were reiterated during this program segment.

In the afternoon, participants continued their project idea discussions started the day before and consolidated into five small groups. At the end of the program, each group presented potential project ideas involving cross-sector collaboration. Discussions on projects feasibility, implementation, and concrete follow-up actions are ongoing.


The session, “Leadership for Inclusive Futures in Hong Kong”, is organized by Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG) and funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. To learn more see: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/588

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Supporting People with Dementia From the Point of Diagnosis
Albert Mulley co-chairing a panel on the advantages and disadvantages of earlier diagnosis
Supporting People with Dementia From the Point of Diagnosis
Salzburg Global Seminar 

“Earlier diagnosis is not optional; it is a human right.” This was one argument put forward during a late morning discussion on the second day of Changing Minds: Innovations in Dementia Care and Dementia-Friendly Communities.

Session co-chair Albert Mulley invited participants to share their views on the advantages and disadvantages of earlier diagnosis and the net value it would bring in different contexts.

Participants also considered how families and supporters could be better assisted after diagnosis in planning and shared decision making for the future.

Mulley, managing director for global health care delivery science at The Dartmouth Institute, suggested earlier diagnosis provided the potential to identify populations at risk. One participant, who lives with dementia, said a timely diagnosis did allow him to explain his irregular behavior, but it
was more important to him to have the correct diagnosis.

One participant indicated diagnosis as a concept hadn’t been examined enough, arguing, “We say diagnosis, but we mean prognosis. We want to know what happens in the future.”

A timely diagnosis could serve both a social and medical function, participants heard. It enables people to explain how they’re feeling and allows their peers to understand what they’re going through.

If someone receives a timely diagnosis, they are able to access the best kind of support: that of their peers. One participant said, “How can you have access to peer support if you don’t know who your peers are in the first place?”

An early diagnosis does not come without its downsides, however, as the group soon learned.

One participant argued moving up the time of diagnosis allows people to be able to control further aspects of life, as well as giving more peace of mind. He added, “On the other hand, earlier diagnosis has the chance of increasing stigma.”

Participants were also reminded to err on the side of caution when scanning for certain diseases before they became medically apparent. One participant warned it was more likely non-progressive diseases would be found.

The downside of an early diagnosis, and the potential of misdiagnosis that comes with it, could be the risk of the patient developing mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression. If a timely diagnosis is to be made, it is important to ensure the structure of both public and private health systems are renewed.

While highlighting an area of the Pacific Islands that only has access to two dementia specialists, a participant used this as an example to argue how important it was to develop tools that allow timely diagnosis regardless of context and location.


The session, Changing Minds: Innovations in Dementia Care and Dementia-Friendly Communities, is part of Salzburg Global Seminar multi-year series Health and Health Care Innovation in the 21st Century. This year’s session is held in partnership with The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice and The Mayo Clinic. To keep up to date with the conversations taking place during the session, follow #SGShealth on Twitter and Instagram.

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DY Suharya - My Work is a Thank You to My Mom
DY, pictured above, has more than 20 years of experience in public health, public private partnerships and communication
DY Suharya - My Work is a Thank You to My Mom
Mirva Villa 

“Soulful calling.” That’s how DY Suharya describes her work in raising awareness on dementia and working toward improving the quality of life of people with dementia and their caregivers. She is the founder of Alzheimer Indonesia, and the regional director of Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) Asia Pacific Region, overseeing 17 countries.

“I have this lifetime commitment to share with people, especially in the Asia Pacific, how you deal with it, how you prevent, reduce your risk, and how you empower, equip and provide support for people with dementia and caregivers, and advocate for person-centered care,” says Suharya. She raises the point while speaking at the Salzburg Global Seminar session, Changing Minds: Innovations in Dementia Care and Dementia-Friendly Communities.

The Asia Pacific countries are diverse, but there are some commonalities in terms of challenges with dementia care. One of the biggest challenges is providing support for people with dementia and their caregivers, which Alzheimer’s Disease International is trying to solve through Dementia Care skills training modules, supported by Master Trainers from Alzheimer’s Disease Association Singapore and other ADI members. The program gives local carers tools with which to provide high quality care.

“If you ask me about challenges, these countries are in a very different place in terms of where they are, and what they need varies. But one thing for sure is they need a pool of talent or a pool of experts or trainers.”

Suharya’s mother has been the inspiration behind her work. She was diagnosed with dementia in 2009, but now Suharya knows that her mother was displaying typical symptoms long before that without anyone realizing it. It caused a lot of tension between Suharya and her mother. “We had our arguments in the past because I did not know what’s going on in her brain.”

It drove her to look for work opportunities abroad, so she wouldn’t have to spend time at home. She ended up working as a journalist, and later as a public health communication consultant for organizations like the World Bank, WHO and UNICEF. She says, “I did everything that would take me away from Indonesia.”

One day, she received a call from her father, informing Suharya of her mother’s diagnosis. In 2012, she decided to come back home after 15 years of living abroad, gathered together her friends and asked them for help in setting up Alzheimer Indonesia, which launched in 2013, on her mother’s birthday. Campaigning to raise awareness of the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s has remained a prominent part of her work.

Suharya’s mother passed away six months ago, but her legacy continues in her work. “If not for my mom, I wouldn’t be here. It’s a thank you to her. Because of my experience, I feel like I can activate people’s highest potential, because my potentials were activated through my mom and inspired through the journey of caring for her with the support of my dad and siblings.”

In four years, Alzheimer Indonesia has grown in size and stature. This has included a comic book launch, film festival and choir concert being some of the highlights. There are now support groups in 21 cities in Indonesia, a WhatsApp support group and more than 1,000 volunteers. “Everything I dreamed of four years ago,” remarks Suharya.

The newest campaign, called “Love Your Parents,” wants to remind young people to be understanding toward the struggles their parents with dementia might have, to respect their parents and spend quality time with them.

“You cannot raise your voice to a person with dementia. You cannot make the same mistakes that I did. You cannot be angry because you’re accompanying your parents to a bank, and they don’t know where their ATM card is or how to use the telephone.”

Suharya describes herself as a big believer in collaboration and partnerships. As the session progresses, she hopes to see some of the discussion and initial plans held during the session realizing themselves in the future. She says, “I’m expecting a concrete collaboration that works as a platform to people who share similar goals – whatever they are good at. I like to connect people, and I like to make things happen."


The session, Changing Minds: Innovations in Dementia Care and Dementia-Friendly Communities, is part of Salzburg Global Seminar multi-year series Health and Health Care Innovation in the 21st Century. This year’s session is held in partnership with The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice and The Mayo Clinic. To keep up to date with the conversations taking place during the session, follow #SGShealth on Twitter and Instagram.

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Innovations in Dementia Care - Reducing the Stigma
Innovations in Dementia Care - Reducing the Stigma
Salzburg Global Seminar 

Stigma is difficult to define, but you know it when you feel it. That was the message which started the second day of the Salzburg Global session, Changing Minds: Innovations in Dementia Care and Dementia-Friendly Communities.

The message was delivered by William Hu, assistant professor of neurology at Emory University, as he moderated a discussion which explored how stigma around dementia varies from country to country and the different ways it is being addressed.

Raising awareness of dementia and improving education is not just about providing communities with a greater understanding. It’s also about changing the self-perception of those living with dementia.

Chris Roberts, a Dementia Friends Champion and Ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society, said parts of the media had accentuated the stigma around dementia, and that society had reached a point where people failed to realize there was a beginning and a middle to every illness.

Roberts, who has a diagnosis of mixed dementia, vascular damage and Alzheimer’s, suggested people should stop using the word “dementia” and start referring to the different conditions by their own names.

Participants considered the different ways in which the stigma around dementia is reinforced. They reflected on the misuse of language and the patient and carer roles which are often assigned at the point of diagnosis.

One participant said stigma should be challenged from the ground up through education. This point was echoed by another participant who called for a change in curriculum that would provide more opportunities for students to interact with people living with dementia.

Participants shared experiences between themselves throughout the session. The group heard how one man living with dementia in Nigeria was unable to openly share his experience, despite wanting to. The people around him would not let him. The stigma was so strong they feared they would be accused of witchcraft.

To reduce the stigma, a new behavioral change will have to be generated. In Indonesia, the media has played an important role in this regard. A series of multimedia campaigns have increased interest in the subject and has led to requests for more people with dementia to tell their stories.

Advocates and people living with dementia can continue to breakdown barriers by engaging with people from their own countries and communities.


The session, Changing Minds: Innovations in Dementia Care and Dementia-Friendly Communities, is part of Salzburg Global Seminar multi-year series Health and Health Care Innovation in the 21st Century. This year’s session is held in partnership with The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice and The Mayo Clinic. To keep up to date with the conversations taking place during the session, follow #SGShealth on Twitter and Instagram.

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