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WHO launches digital app to improve care for older people

Publishing Date : 07 October, 2019

Author : TLHABO KGOSIEMANG

The World Health Organization has is launching a package of tools, including a digital application to help health and social workers provide better care for older people.


The innovative interactive digital application known as WHO Integrated Care for Older People ICOPE Handbook App provides practical guidance to address priority conditions including mobility limitations, malnutrition, vision and hearing loss, cognitive decline, depressive symptoms, social care and support. Used in conjunction with a package of tools including a new handbook, the app will accelerate training of health and social workers to better address the diverse needs of older people.


‘’It is essential that services for older people are included in universal health care packages. At the same time there needs to be good coordination between the health and social services to provide optimal care when needed. The new package of tools supports healthy ageing with a person-centred and coordinated model of care,” says Dr Anshu Banerjee, Director of the Department of Maternal, New-Born, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing at World Health Organization.


According to WHO, the world’s population is ageing at a fast pace. By 2050 one in five people will be over 60. The number of aged over 80 is projected to triple from 143 Million in 2019 to 426 Million in 2050. While every older person is different physical and mental capacities tend to decline with increasing age.


‘’Such innovation will enable older people to continue doing the things they value and prevent them from social isolation and care dependency’’ says Dr Islene Araujo de Carvalho, group lead on ageing and integrated care at World Health Organization. ‘’Intervening close to where older people live, with active participation of the community and older persons themselves, is essential for a personalized care plan’’


The WHO says Integrated Care for Older People package of tools is the result of two years of extensive consultations with leading experts and stakeholders including civil society representatives. The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals recognize that development will only be achievable if it is inclusive of people of all ages. Empowering older persons and enabling their full participation and social inclusion in good health are ways to reduce inequalities, this is according to WHO.


The UN International Day of Older Persons held under the theme ‘’The Journey of Age Equality’’ is said to be 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. Though the right to health apllies to all, regardless of age, ability, gender, geographical location, socio-economic status without discrimination of any kind, WHO argued that many health systems around the world struggle to respond to the complex and diverse health needs of older people.


Meanwhile, the world’s population is expected to increase by 2 Billion Persons in the next 30 years, from 7.7 Billion currently to 9.7 Billion in 2050, according to a new United Nations report launched in June 2019. The report also confirmed that the world’s population is growing older due to increasing life expectancy and falling fertility levels, and that the number of countries experiencing a reduction in population size is growing. The resulting changes in the size, composition and distribution of the world’s population have important consequences for achieving the sustainable development goals, the globally agreed targets for improving economic prosperity and social well-being while protecting the environment.


By 2050, one in six people in the world will be over age 65 (16%), up from one in 11 in 2019 (9%). Regions where the share of the population aged 65 years or over is projected to double between 2019 and 2050 include Northern Africa and Western Asia, Central and Southern Asia, Eastern and South Eastern Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. By 2050, one in four persons living in Europe and Northern America could be aged 65 or over.


In 2018, for the first time in history, persons aged 65 or over outnumbered children under the age of 5 years globally. The number of persons aged 80 years or over is projected to triple, from 143 Million in 2019 to 426 Million in 2050. Since 2010, 27 countries have experienced a reduction of 1% or more in the size of their populations. This drop is caused by sustained low levels for fertility. The impact of low fertility on population size is reinforced in some locations by high rates of emigration.


Between 2019 and 2050, populations are projected to decrease by one per cent or more in 55 countries, of which 26 may see a reduction of at least ten per cent. In China, for example, the population is projected to decrease by 31.4 Million, or around 2.2 per cent, between 2019 and 2050.


The population of Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to double by 2050, a 99% increase. Regions that may experience lower rates of population growth between 2019 and 2050 include Oceania excluding Australia at 56%, Northern Africa and Western Asia 46%, Australia 28%, Central and Southern Asia 25%, Latin America and the Caribbean 18%, Eastern and South-eastern Asia 3% and Europe and Northern America at 2%

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