Age Demands Action on Health
(c) Frederic Dupoux/HelpAge International World Health Day , 7 April, older people in 26 countries met their governments to remind them of the health commitments they made in previous years.
Raising awareness about high blood pressure
This year, the theme for World Health Day was hypertension. Also known as raised or high blood pressure, hypertension increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure.
According to the World Health Organization, the prevalence of high blood pressure is highest in low-income countries in Africa, with over 40% of adults in many African countries thought to be affected.
ADA on Health 2013 highlights
32,414 campaigners in 26 countries were actively involved in the campaign. Of these, 18% were younger people and 42% were older women.
17,657 older people had their blood pressure tested as part of the campaign.
ADA on Health had over 100 media hits including national prime-time radio shows, TV talk shows, and national newspapers.
Members of over 350 Older People's Associations (OPAs) and 76 civil society organisations participated in the campaign.
World Health Day campaign activities
(c) Nick Bate/HelpAge International Many campaigners marked World Health Day by telling their governments that hypertension is not only preventable, but it is also easy to detect and inexpensive to treat.
Campaign actions for World Health Day took place in 26 countries. Here are some examples:
Kyrgyzstan: A round table discussion was organised to discuss ways to improve healthcare for older people, with the Ministry of Health, NGOs and medical associations in attendance. Medical staff also targeted older people in 15 rural communities to check for both hypertension and diabetes. Additionally, the Professor Satarovna, the head of the Kyrgyz Association of specialists on non-communicable diseases held a lecture about older people and hypertension.
Indonesia: Long distances to health centres and no access to transport often prevent older people from accessing vital services, so campaigners called on the Deputy Health Minister to set up more public health centres, which he promised to do. In addition to the meeting, an awareness raising event was held and attended by approximately 2000 people, where there was blood pressure testing available from Ministry of Health experts.
Serbia: The ADA delegation met Brankica Janković, State Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Policy, who pledged to revise the Strategy on Ageing and action plan for 2014. In addition, many awareness raising actvities across the country were carried focussing on the issue of hypertension. Older people were given the opportunity to listen to renowned cardiologists and get their prevention advice. During the festival’s two days, some 10,000 people got free health check-ups and had their blood pressure measured. In order to reach out communities where access to medical services is limited, army doctors joined the campaign and travelled to remote rural villages to conduct bloop pressure tests.
(c) HelpAge International
Nepal: The ADA delegation met with the Minister for Health and population to follow up on pledges made last year regarding the allocation of geriatric beds. He informed the delegation that the demands are already being addressed by the relevant department of the MoH. In addition to the meeting, an orientation on high blood pressure and free bloop pressure testing was organised in 15 communities in 5 districts. There was also a radio programme and TV show involving older people talking about hypertension to raise public awareness.
Sri Lanka: Older people called for age-friendly facilities in government hospitals, such as access to medicines that control non-communicable diseases. A medical camp and an exhibition was held at Vakarai, Batticaloa district in collaboration with the University of Kelaniya's faculty of medicine. It offered free screening for older people.
South Africa: In the rural community of KwaZulu Natal, older people get up early to stand in long queues outside the health clinics. Often, they are turned away or ignored when they reach the front because they are not a priority. Over 500 campaigners and representatives from the Department of Health and the Department of Sport held a rally calling for age-friendly health services in their community.
Key ADA on Health policy pledges
As well as public action and engagement, a key part of ADA on Health consists of delegations of older people meeting with targeted decision-makers to influence change.
This year saw some promising pledges made, with the potential for millions to benefit as a result. Here are some highlights:
Ghana: The Ghana Health Service (GHS) pledged to incorporate older people’s health needs into 5-year medium-term development plan of GHS. This includes giving older people priority treatment and the reduction of premium exception age from 70 to 60 years.
Indonesia: The deputy minister for health pledged to improve the prevention and monitoring of high blood pressure amongst older people through the establishment of 3,000 public health centres nation-wide.
Serbia: The State Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Policy agreed to revise the Strategy on Ageing and action plan for 2014.
Slovenia: In Slovenia, the chairman of the National Assembly pledged to include active ageing as a priority in the strategy of development of the republic of Slovenia 2014-2018.
Survey on hypertension
HelpAge International has carried out a survey on high blood pressure in over 40 countries. We asked civil society organisations about access, awareness and treatment of hypertension for older people.
Read more about the shocking results!