World Health Day 2014: Campaign for universal health coverage


By Sarah Marzouk

This World Health Day, 7 April, campaigners in 40 countries are taking part in our Age Demands Action on Health campaign to call for universal health coverage. Eufemia, 68, a tenant farmer who lives in Leyte in the Philippines Older people in 40 countries are campaigning for universal health coverage. (c) Carolyn Canham/HelpAge International

This comes at a time when we reveal that 76 million older people around the world are being excluded from vital healthcare, and life expectancy at 60 is decreasing or remains static in 38 out of 194 countries.

Action across the globe

Age Demands Action (ADA) is a global grassroots campaign led by activists fighting for the rights of older people. Today’s activities will see older people engaging with government officials and standing united to call for improved health access and treatment across the globe.

As part of this year’s ADA on Health campaign, older people in Kyrgyzstan will meet Ministers of Health and Social Development. In a country where 6% of the population are older but life expectancy at 60+ is in decline, activists will be raising the issue of the cost of medicines and the standard of healthcare.

In Sri Lanka, where older people make up 12% of the population and life expectancy at 60+ is static, older people will facilitate a forum with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social Services. They will discuss the implementation of collaborative programmes that address their health needs.

Other activities include radio and television programmes on older people’s health in Ethiopia and Vietnam respectively. Campaigners will also take part in marches and tweet their decision-makers.

New research

To coincide with World Health Day, we have also published new research on health systems. The report shows that ensuring older people are included in community healthcare is vital to maintaining a good quality of life.

The research is based on a two-year pilot project undertaken in Cambodia, Mozambique, Peru and Tanzania. The programme shows that developing community healthcare services that respond to ageing can improve access, affordability and identify critical steps for prevention.

Dr Jorge Ancajima, working on the project in Peru said: “We are teaching older people and others that the risk of certain chronic diseases can be reduced and that there are treatments to prevent more serious complications.”

Mark Gorman, HelpAge’s Director of Strategy added: “The results show the urgent need for universal healthcare for older people and the extent to which their healthcare needs are being neglected.”

Get involved!

Join our Twitter campaign:

This year, campaigners in six countries will tweet their health ministers and decision makers to put pressure on them about better healthcare for older people. If you have a Twitter account then please join the campaign!

  • If you live or are from one of our six target countries – Albania, Bangladesh, Fiji, Ghana, Haiti or Kenya please tweet your minister by following this link.
  • If you are from outside of these countries please help us raise awareness for universal health coverage for older people by sending a tweet now.
  • Follow @helpage on Twitter to keep up-to-date with the campaign.

Other ways you can get involved:

  • Find out about life expectancy in your country in our Global AgeWatch Index.
  • Download the health systems report.

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  • Md. Masudul Haque (20 April 2014)

    Bangladesh is experiencing heavy hot with no rain. Millions of older persons facing heat, who are responsible for them to look after during this disaster? Has HAI any initiative to deal this?

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