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LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 185-186

What can be done at national level for the welfare of the aging population: World Health Organization leads the way


Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication13-Dec-2016

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2348-9995.195686

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. What can be done at national level for the welfare of the aging population: World Health Organization leads the way. J Geriatr Ment Health 2016;3:185-6

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. What can be done at national level for the welfare of the aging population: World Health Organization leads the way. J Geriatr Ment Health [serial online] 2016 [cited 2019 Sep 23];3:185-6. Available from: http://www.jgmh.org/text.asp?2016/3/2/185/195686

Sir,

In the process of achieving the goal of health for all worldwide, over the years, the health sector has accomplished various milestones. [1] In fact, for the very first time in history, a major percentage of the world's population has a life expectancy in excess of 60 years. [2] Further, it has been anticipated that the proportion of the world's population (more than 60 years) will be almost doubled from about 11% to 22% by the year 2050. [3] These estimates clearly suggest that the proportion of elderly people has increased tremendously and hence their interests/welfare cannot be ignored. [1],[2],[3]

Despite of the projection that the European region will account for maximum number of elderly population by 2050, it is expected that a major proportion of the older population will be from the under-developed regions. [2],[3] Further, a great diversity in life expectancy has been observed between the worst and best-performing nations (viz., a difference of 38 years for life expectancy at birth and 13 years for life expectancy at 60 years of age). [4] Although longer lives are an extremely valuable resource, its benefits can only be realized if the older population spends them in a sound state of health. [5]

It is very important to understand that aging is quite a complex and challenging area, and a lot has to be done to ensure the welfare of the elderly. [1],[2] This is predominantly due to the existence of multiple challenges such as most of the perception/assumption about the elderly is derived from outdated stereotypes, absence of any comprehensive policy to address their variable needs, physical and mental diversity, and poor access to resources or opportunities for sustaining their health. [1],[4],[5] In addition, factors such as ineffective legislative provisions to maintain their dignity in the society, poor accessibility to the support homes for the elderly, no mechanism to meet specific needs of the elderly women, and an extensive need to provide technological support, has seriously affected the lives of the elderly. [1],[4],[5]

Realizing the magnitude of the elderly and the special challenges associated with them, there is a significant need to promote healthy aging, and establish systems to meet the needs of the elderly. [4],[5] A wide range of programs/strategies have been initiated such as maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens act (for provisions for medical care of senior citizen); national program for the health-care for the elderly (with an aim to provide accessible, affordable, and high-quality long-term, comprehensive and dedicated care services to an aging population; and to promote the concept of healthy aging). [6] Further, an analysis of the existing policies has been done through the strength-weakness-opportunity-threat approach [Table 1]. [1],[2],[3],[4],[5],[6]
Table 1: Strength - weakness - opportunity - threat analysis of existing policies and recommendations

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A major step will be to encourage adolescents/adults to adopt healthy behaviors so that the onset of noncommunicable diseases are delayed. [2] At the same time, measures such as the formulation of a nation-wise, comprehensive policy to meet specific needs of the elderly; establishing a screening mechanism for detecting the disease at the earliest, strengthening of the health, and social systems by making them more elder-friendly can deliver rich dividends. [2],[5] Further, there is a great need that both cities and the communities should strive to become more age-friendly so that the varying needs of the aging population can be addressed. [7] In fact, the World Health Organization in collaboration with its various partners and other stakeholders has released a comprehensive Global Strategy and Action Plan on Aging and Health, with an aim to identify the gaps, ascertain future priorities, and plan interventions to ensure that everyone experiences healthy aging. [2],[4]

To conclude, for healthy aging of the population a comprehensive response is the need of the hour and this can only happen, provided all the stakeholders realize its importance and then work together with responsibility in a single direction to ensure the well-being of the elderly.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
Patterson L. Making our health and care systems fit for an ageing population: David Oliver, Catherine Foot, Richard Humphries. King′s Fund March 2014. Age Ageing 2014;43:731.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
World Health Organization. WHO Global Strategy and Action Plan on Ageing and Health; 2015. Available from: http://www.who.int/ageing/global-strategy/en/. [Last accessed on 2016 Jan 26].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
United Nations. World population prospects: The 2015 revision, key findings and advance tables. New York: UN Press; 2015. p. 1-13.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
World Health Organization. Global strategy and action plan on ageing and health: Draft 0. Geneva: WHO Press; 2015. p. 1-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
McElwaine P, Robinson D. The complexity of managing an ageing population. Int J Clin Pract 2014;68:405-6.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Verma R, Khanna P. National program of health-care for the elderly in India: A hope for healthy ageing. Int J Prev Med 2013;4:1103-7.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Suzman R, Beard JR, Boerma T, Chatterji S. Health in an ageing world - what do we know? Lancet 2015;385:484-6.  Back to cited text no. 7
    



 
 
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