Non communicable diseases: Ageing and dementias now included in UN meeting


Older people in Argentina campaign to be included in the UN High Level Meeting on NCDs Older people in Argentina campaign to be included in the UN meeting on non communicable diseases ISALUD/HelpAge International 2011 By Caroline Graham

HelpAge International is attending the first-ever UN High-Level Meeting on non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Up to 20 heads of state are expected to attend the event in New York on the 19-20 September.

The meeting will look at how to tackle four prominent non communicable diseases - cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes - and the common risk factors of tobacco use, alcohol abuse, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and environmental carcinogens.

HelpAge's Strategy Adviser Mark Gorman and HelpAge Global Ambassador Alex Kalache will attend the summit where they are working with ten other agencies including - AARP, Alzheimer's Disease International, Caregivers Action Network and the NCD Alliance - to ensure the summit outcome is relevant to older people across the developing world where NCDs are increasing as populations age.

And even before the meeting has begun, our collective campaigning and hard work has already yielded some success.

Thanks to our and our partners' work over the past few months, the UN meeting's draft document - also called the political declaration - now contains specific references to population ageing, Alzheimer's and other dementias, the importance of social protection and care, including palliative care, and universal primary healthcare.

Click here to read the ten agencies' joint statement on getting ageing, dementias and caregiving into the Non Communicable Diseases high level meeting.

An early success for older people

We also campaigned for the summit's draft document to have references to 'premature death' removed as this wording implies there is an age cut-off after which preventing death from NCDs becomes less important.

These words have been replaced by the term 'preventable death' across the whole course of someone's life.

Mark Gorman said: "We welcome the current draft because it has these references which are important because a key driver of the rise of NCDs is population ageing. Older people everywhere, including in the developing world, must be fully included in the global response to NCDs.

"We welcome also the document's strong emphasis on national plans being in place by 2013 and that NCDs are to be integrated into the development agenda. We will be working hard after the summit to ensure that older people will be fully included in those plans and programmes.

"Nevertheless despite the progress made we are disappointed that there are no clear targets in the document.

"It is important that the outcomes of the summit reach all age groups and take special note that two-thirds of those affected by NCDs are over 60, with a growing number in the developing world."

For more from Mark Gorman read his blog from the UN NCD summit.

Older people are more at risk from NCDs

  • People over 60 accounted for 75% of the 35 million deaths from NCDs worldwide in 2004, with the majority in the low and middle income world.
  • Global ageing is recognised by the World Health Organisation as the first of four drivers of non communicable disease predominance in developing countries.
  • Older people in low and middle income countries are at especially high risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes, as well as Alzheimer's and other dementias.
  • Many older people in developing countries who suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure) also experience co-morbidities such as diabetes and heart disease but these often remain undetected.

What you can do:

  • We are asking all our supporters, Affiliates and partners to raise these issues with their government representatives at the summit.
  • Do you think older people in your country face discrimination in getting treatment for cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and dementia? We'd love to hear from you - leave us a comment below or post on our Facebook page.

Post a comment | 2 comments

Comments submitted for this page

  • Basiliana Rintari (18 June 2012)

    Ihappen to come from a developing country and passionately feel that it is every government has an obligation to offer free medical to its older population regardless of financial status especially dementia and other non communicable diseases.

  • Bakhiet Obey (20 September 2011)

    It is pleasing to post the organization and its partners in this summit, and a according to my personal belief that the treatment of this type of disease is costly for the elderly in the Third World countries, especially that their countries are faced with internal and external challenges and weaknesses in the capabilities, facilities and human resources that may face the burden of such challenges
    I think that it is required to create a healthy environment in Third World countries to enable them to confront such challenges through the following points:
    1. Training of health staff to deal with the elderly such as doctors and nurses in the field of geriatrics, as most countries lack the staff to the human in this specialty.
    2. Preamble communities to deal with the elderly and health problems through outreach projects that can be made by the Ministry of Health and WHO and Help Age International.
    3. Support the inclusion of specialty of geriatrics and aging studies at the universities of
    Third World countries.
    4. Support the experiences of the international organization for the care of older people in the field of health to deal with elderly people in third world countries, develop and support them financially and artistically, technically and coordinating with the United Nations, especially the World Health Organization.
    Finally, this summit is a light at the beginning of the problems of the elderly through multiplexing
    which require the combined efforts of local communities and governments of states and regional and international organizations. With my sincere wishes for your

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Access to health - for all ages

Older people in developing countries are entitled to the same quality of health care as younger people - and they are not afraid to say so.

Older Bolivian woman holds sign saying '7 out of 10 deaths from NCDs are older people'

"7 out of 10 deaths from NCDs are older people."

Older woman, Bolivia

Kyrgyzstan campaigner holds a sign saying 'No discrimination in health care system'

"No discrimination in the health care system." 

Bodrenko Raisa Ivanovna, Kyrgyzstan. Bodrenko takes part in a HelpAge project that trains older people to test for and treat diabetes.

Bolivian campaigner holds a sign: 'We demand better treatment for older people at health centres'

"We demand better treatment for older people at health centres."

Older health campaigner, Bolivia.


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