(c) Mayur Paul/HelpAge International
By Ed Knight
Delegations from all World Health Organization (WHO) member states are currently gathered in Geneva for the 69th World Health Assembly, and HelpAge will be part of a side event on Wednesday to highlight the impact of ageism on global health.
From Plan to Action: Combating Ageism to Achieve Healthy Ageing is an interactive discussion examining how ageism impacts on society and policy, and the actions needed to improve older people’s health and wellbeing.
"Older people often face difficulties accessing quality health services," said Rachel Albone, Health and Care Policy Advisor, HelpAge International.
"Our work with older people has shown deep rooted ageism within the health sector, including denial of medication, abuse, neglect and negative attitudes by health workers."
HelpAge International co-organised the event with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the International Federation on Ageing.
How ageism affects older people's health
Ageism can have a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of older people, feeding the assumption that older people will benefit less from health promotion and preventative strategies, suggesting less attention should be paid to their needs.
Anwarra, a 75-year-old woman from Bangladesh, told HelpAge about the problems she faced seeking treatment: "The doctors didn’t care because I was old and poor. They wanted money. They kicked me out. I returned home."
Older people are often not consulted in processes and service delivery. Their voices are not always heard, their skills are not utilised, and their right to accessible and appropriate health care is not realised.
HelpAge is calling for increased access to health services for older people and their involvement in all efforts towards the achievement of healthy ageing to ensure policy makers listen to and act on their views.
HelpAge will be represented by Rachel Albone, Charlotte Aberdein, Health and Care Policy Officer, and Amleset Tewodros, Country Director, HelpAge International Tanzania.
The event will be moderated by Dr John Beard, Director of the Department of Ageing and Life Course, WHO, and features speakers from the Government of Sweden, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, HelpAge International Tanzania and the International Federation on Ageing. It takes place on Wednesday 25 May, 6.30–8.30pm at the ICRC Humanitarium, entrance by ICRC Museum, Avenue de la Paix 19, Geneva, Switzerland.