Professor Peter Piot, former Under-Secretary General of the United Nations, compared dementia to the AIDs epidemic and said one person is diagnosed with the mental illness every seven seconds.
The population of sufferers, which currently stands at 36 million, is set to double by 2020 worldwide.
He is now calling on the World Health Organisation to add dementia to their list of top priority diseases to fund research and treatment across the globe.
He said: “It’s not adding years to your life, but life to your years.”
Despite his calls to improve diagnosis, Prof Piot admitted it may not always be ethical to diagnose the condition, in parts of the world where treatment is not yet available.
Recently, there has been a call for inquiries in the UK over the conditions to which dementia patients are exposed by their NHS treatment.