Globalization, technological developments (e.g. in transport and communication), urbanization, migration and changing gender norms are influencing the lives of older people in direct and indirect ways. For example, although the number of surviving generations in a family has increased, today these generations are more likely than in the past to live separately. A public health response must take stock of these current and projected trends, and frame policies accordingly.
HOW THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION IS RESPONDING
In accordance with a recent World Health Resolution (67/13), a comprehensive Global Strategy and Action Plan on Ageing and Health is being developed by WHO in consultation with Member States and other partners. The Strategy and Action Plan draws on the evidence of the World report on ageing and health and builds on existing activities to address 5 priority areas for action.
- Commitment to Healthy Ageing. Requires awareness of the value of Healthy Ageing and sustained commitment and action to formulate evidence-based policies that strengthen the abilities of older persons.
- Aligning health systems with the needs of older populations. Health systems need to be better organized around older people’s needs and preferences, designed to enhance older peoples intrinsic capacity, and integrated across settings and care providers. Actions in this area are closely aligned with other work across the Organization to strengthen universal health care and people-centred and integrated health services.
- Developing systems for providing long-term care. Systems of long-term care are needed in all countries to meet the needs of older people. This requires developing, sometimes from nothing, governance systems, infrastructure and workforce capacity. WHO’s work on long-term care (including palliative care) aligns closely with efforts to enhance universal health coverage, address non-communicable diseases, and develop people-centred and integrated health services.
- Creating age-friendly environments. This will require actions to combat ageism, enable autonomy and support Healthy Ageing in all policies and at all levels of government. These activities build on and complement WHO’s work during the past decade to develop age-friendly cities and communities including the development of the Global Network of Age Friendly Cities and Communities and an interactive information sharing platform Age-friendly World.
- Improving measurement, monitoring and understanding. Focused research, new metrics and analytical methods are needed for a wide range of ageing issues. This work builds on the extensive work WHO has done in improving health statistics and information, for example through the WHO Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE)