International Day of Older Persons, 1 October

2 October, 2019

Below is the text from the United Nations website. In addition, I would like to draw attention to the inequality of access to basic health care for older persons. Older persons have greater and more complex needs for health care, and yet have reduced access. They are therefore disproportionately susceptible to avoidable suffering. Older persons may also have reduced access to reliable healthcare information to inform healthy decisions and care-seeking.

https://www.un.org/en/events/olderpersonsday/

'Between 2017 and 2030, the number of persons aged 60 years or over is projected to grow by 46 per cent (from 962 million to 1.4 billion) globally outnumbering youth, as well as children under the age of 10. Moreover, this increase will be the greatest and most rapid in the developing world (A/RES/73/143). Population ageing is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the 21st century.

Older people have always played a significant role in society as leaders, caretakers and custodians of tradition. Yet they are also highly vulnerable, with many falling into poverty, becoming disabled or facing discrimination. As health care improves, the population of older people is growing. Their needs are also growing, as are their contributions to the world.

The International Day of Older Persons is an opportunity to highlight the important contributions that older people make to society and raise awareness of the opportunities and challenges of ageing in today’s world.

2019 Theme: "The Journey to Age Equality"

The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize that development will only be achievable if it is inclusive of all ages. Empowering older persons in all dimensions of development, including promoting their active participation in social, economic and political life, is one way to ensure their inclusiveness and reduce inequalities.

The 2019 theme is aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 10 (SDG 10) and focuses on pathways of coping with existing — and preventing future — old age inequalities. SDG 10 sets to red uce inequality within — and among — countries, and aims to "ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome," including through measures to eliminate discrimination, and to "empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status."

Often, disparities in old age reflect an accumulated disadvantage characterized by factors such as: location, gender, socio-economic status, health and income. Between 2015 and 2030, the number of people aged 60 and over is expected to increase from 901 million to 1.4 billion. In this regard, trends of ageing and economic inequality interact across generations and rapid population ageing, demographic and societal or structural changes alone, can exacerbate older age inequalities, thereby limiting economic growth and social cohesion.

The 2019 theme aims to:

- Draw attention to the existence of old age inequalities and how this often results from a cumulation of disadvantages throughout life, and highlight intergenerational risk of increased old age inequalities.

- Bring awareness to the urgency of coping with existing — and preventing future — old age inequalities.

- Explore societal and structural changes in view of life course policies: life-long learning, proactive and adaptive labour policies, social protection and universal health coverage.

- Reflect on best practices, lessons and progress on the journey to ending older age inequalities and changing negative narratives and stereotypes involving "old age."

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org