Major shift in focus on healthy ageing is welcomed, says HelpAge International

HelpAge International welcomes a major shift in thinking on health in older age, with the release of the World Health Organization's (WHO) World Report on Ageing and Health today. (Embargoed till 1600 hours GMT Wednesday 30 September)

"The WHO report, moves us away from thinking about health in older age solely as the presence or absence of disease and instead looks at an older person's wellbeing and ability to function and do the things they want," said Toby Porter, Chief Executive, HelpAge International.

"We strongly support the WHO's calls for health and care services to be improved and provided in a more integrated way,” he said. 

"They emphasise the need to develop long term care systems, recognising that informal, unsupported care by family members and friends alone is unsustainable.

"The recommendations in this report are extremely timely, with the adoption of the SDGs, as well as recent research showing that people are living longer but spending more years of life in poorer health, as gains in healthy life expectancy fail to keep pace with gains in life expectancy."

HelpAge International works with its network members around the world to protect and promote older people's right to health and improve access to care.

The report findings provide useful information for its continued engagement with governments and stakeholders to improve its age-sensitive systems and service delivery.

"Important issues are raised by this report around the challenges of measuring, monitoring and understanding the health and care needs of people in later life," said Rachel Albone, Health and Care Policy Advisor, HelpAge International.

"We welcome the WHO's call to include older people in statistics and population surveys. Addressing data challenges to improve our understanding of age related health and care issues will be crucial for making progress on healthy ageing. It will help us ensure that the Sustainable Development Goal on health for all at all ages is achieved by 2030," she said.

"HelpAge will continue to support older people to monitor their own access to health and care services and to hold their governments to account. We will also take forward work to explore new ways to measure healthy ageing, wellbeing and functional ability, in line with the WHO's call for improved data and measurement."

Necodimus Chipfupa, HelpAge’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, said: "This report gives us the tool to ensure that no one, including those in older age, is left behind, that the Sustainable Development Goal for health and wellbeing for all, at all ages, is met, and that we can make real progress in achieving healthy ageing for this generation of older people and those to come."

The report and WHO Regional Office for Africa's efforts to develop a regional framework on ageing and health will provide crucial entry points to ensure efforts to strengthen health systems at national level in the region include a focus on healthy ageing. In South Africa, the re-engineering primary health care initiative and development of a national health insurance system provide key opportunities.

-ENDS-

Notes to editors:

Available for interview:

Toby Porter, Chief Executive, HelpAge International in London

Rachel Albone, Health and Care Policy Advisor, HelpAge International in London

Necodimus Chipfupa, Regional Director for Southern Africa, HelpAge International in Pretoria, South Africa

Matthew Cherian, Executive Director, HelpAge India in New Delhi, India

Media Contacts: Sarah Gillam, Media Relations Manager, London: tel: +44 (0) 20 7148 7623; mobile: + 44 (0) 7713 567 624; email: sarah.gillam@helpage.org; Skype: sarah.gillam.hai 

or

Ed Knight, Media Intern, London: tel: + 44 (0) 20 7148 7606; email: edward.knight@helpage.org; Skype: edward.knight.hai

About HelpAge International 
HelpAge International helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives. Our work is strengthened through our global network of like-minded organisations - the only one of its kind in the world.