President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday unveiled a five-year plan to fight Alzheimer's disease that afflicts 860,000 elderly people in France.
The 1.6-billion-euro (2.4-billion-dollar) plan provides for the creation of a new research foundation to pool efforts at scientific advances and sets up a network of nursing homes to help families cope.
Advertisement"This is a lasting commitment on behalf of the state in the fight against this disease," Sarkozy said during a visit to Sophia Antipolis, near the French Riviera city of Nice.
"This is a personal commitment," added Sarkozy, who had singled out Alzheimer's disease as a priority of his health policy during his campaign for the presidency last year.
Most of the funds for the plan will come from a new user fee on health services that came into effect on January 1.
The France-Alzheimer association representing families of Alzheimer's patients welcomed the plan, with president Arlette Meyrieux saying it could yield "significant progress" .
But she added "we want to see the details and how it's going to be implemented and with what means."
An estimated 1.3 million people are expected to suffer from Alzheimer's in France by 2020 and the number could hit 2.1 million by 2040.
The degenerative brain disorder is the leading cause of loss of autonomy for the elderly.
Sarkozy wants to organize a Europe-wide conference on Alzheimer's disease during the six-month French presidency of the European Union starting in July.
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