News

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.
Comments
     
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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs