The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), in collaboration with other United Nations agencies and the Inter-American System, on Monday (April 17) launched a series of reports that seek to contribute to the development of healthy ageing strategies in the Americas.
The series, titled The Decade of Healthy Aging in the Americas: Situation and Challenge, presents an overview of different aspects of ageing and the health situation of older persons in the region, where life expectancy reached 77.2 years in 2019.
“These reports constitute a significant advance in the consolidation of data and information on population ageing and on the health and well-being of older persons in the Americas,” said Jarbas Barbosa, PAHO director.
“Through them, it will be possible to identify, understand and address many of the challenges and opportunities that profound and accelerated aging will present for the Americas,” he continued.
The region is ageing rapidly. It is estimated that, by 2030, there will be more people over the age of 60 than those under the age of 15.
And while life expectancy at birth for both sexes increased by three years between 2000 and 2019, men and women in the region live on average 9.7 and 12.3 years in poor health, respectively.
Poverty and inequality influence the life course and the conditions in which people spend their old age, a factor also highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
PAHO, in a statement, indicated that “The fact that people are living longer reflects progress, but the challenge now is to ensure that most of these years are lived in better health.”
“For this to happen, strategies must be implemented not only during old age but throughout the entire life course. It is also key to provide favourable environments for the elderly and integrated, person-centred health care, with an emphasis on primary care,” the organisation added.
The series is launched within the context of the United Nations Decade for Healthy Aging (2021-2030) with the aim of providing accurate and reliable information so that countries can advance strategies, actions and policies that promote healthy ageing of all populations.
The reports focus on various topics, including the human rights of older persons, their access to new technologies and the economic context of ageing, as well as the situation of indigenous older persons and older persons within the LGBTIQA+ community. Several articles present information on the impact of COVID-19 on older people with a view to protecting this population in future emergencies.
“We cannot imagine inclusive and sustainable development if we do not put people at the center of strategies. This includes both older people and the next generations,” said the PAHO director.