For a long time, senility was thought to be something that just happened naturally to some people when they got old. It was not thought of as a potentially preventable, treatable disease. Thirty years ago, there was a rather rare disease in young people, called premature senile dementia, in which the minds of afflicted young people deteriorated the way the minds of some elderly people deteriorated. This rare disease of young people had another name: Alzheimer's disease. When researchers studying Alzheimer's disease examined samples of brain tissue from deceased young people who had Alzheimer's disease, with an electron microscope, they discovered unusual structures which were named "plaques". When samples of brain tissue from deceased senile elderly people were examined by the same technique, the same unusual plaques were seen. It was a revelation: senile dementia was Alzheimer's disease in elderly people, not a normal event in aging. It was not a rare disease, but rather a very common one which afflicted many people late in life. Because of this discovery, research on how to prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease became a high priority for the biomedical community. Research on Alzheimer's disease greatly increased in scope, scale and pace.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a unique, experimental research work of the Union of International Associations. It is currently published as a searchable online platform with profiles of world problems, action strategies, and human values that are interlinked in novel and innovative ways. These connections are based on a range of relationships such as broader and narrower scope, aggravation, relatedness and more. By concentrating on these links and relationships, the Encyclopedia is uniquely positioned to bring focus to the complex and expansive sphere of global issues and their interconnected nature.
The initial content for the Encyclopedia was seeded from UIA’s Yearbook of International Organizations. UIA’s decades of collected data on the enormous variety of association life provided a broad initial perspective on the myriad problems of humanity. Recognizing that international associations are generally confronting world problems and developing action strategies based on particular values, the initial content was based on the descriptions, aims, titles and profiles of international associations.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.