World Health Day Focuses on Older People

    People take part in a mass exercise session in the central square of Russia's southern city of Stavropol, April 6, 2012, to celebrate World Health Day.
    People take part in a mass exercise session in the central square of Russia's southern city of Stavropol, April 6, 2012, to celebrate World Health Day.

    The World Health Organization is calling for urgent action to make sure all people reach old age in the best possible health.  To mark this year’s World Health Day, WHO says good health is essential for maintaining a good quality of life as people get older in this rapidly aging world.

    The pulsating beat of the music does not just get the hearts of young people pumping with joy.  Older people too get caught up in the rhythmic beat.  This video produced for World Health Day presents a montage of  elderly people throughout the world engaged in activities that would exhaust many a younger person.  Particularly impressive is the image of a 100-year-old man finishing a marathon.

    World Health Day Graph

    “We really need to change our thinking about people in the over-60 age group in radical ways,” said Director-General of the World Health Organization Margaret Chan.  She says so many people now are living to an advanced age that a birth date alone is no longer a measure of old age.

    “Within the next five years, for the first time in history, the population of people aged 65 and older will outnumber children under the age of five.  In other words, being in the older age group is becoming the new normal for the world’s population and I am very proud to be qualified for the new normal,” she said.

    World population aged 60 or over

    Contrary to common perceptions, the WHO reports by 2050, 80 percent of the world’s older people will be living in low-and middle-income countries - not in the wealthier nations. And, a new analysis shows the key reasons for ill health in older people are from non-communicable diseases.  

    The U.N. health agency says even in the poorest countries, elderly people are not dying from infectious diseases or gastroenteritis.  Rather, they are dying from heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.  

    Director of the WHO Aging and Life Course, John Beard, says adopting healthy behaviors can significantly reduce the risk of developing all non-communicable diseases.  He says being physically active, eating a healthy diet, avoiding the harmful use of alcohol and not smoking can better the chances of enjoying a healthy old age.

    He says it is also important for society to change its attitude toward aging.  He says it is wrong to focus on aging as a problem.  It is wrong to regard older people as a burden.

    “At WHO, we see it somewhat differently," said Beard.  "We see older people as a resource.  We see them as a resource for their family, for their community, for society as a whole.  And the key to liberating that resource is good health and it is something which we have neglected in the past and we need to make sure that the older populations which we are going to share this planet within the future and which all of us will be part of - that as far as possible, we enjoy the best possible health because that makes everything possible.”  

    The World Health Organization recommends several key actions to strengthen healthy and active aging.  It urges governments to promote good healthy behaviors throughout life and to provide basic primary health care to detect chronic diseases early so they can be treated.

    WHO says physical and social environments should be created in which old people can thrive.  And it calls on governments to change social attitudes toward the elderly so they are respected and valued.

    This forum has been closed.
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora