Amplifying the Potential of Healthy Ageing for Sustainable Development

Amplifying the Potential of Healthy Ageing for Sustainable Development Amplifying the Potential of Healthy Ageing for Sustainable Development

February 11, 20212 min read
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The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that by 2050, 80% of older people will be living in low- and middle-income countries. In the context of the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing 2021-2030 (the Decade) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development the time to invest in healthy ageing to support a sustainable future is now, according to a recent World Economic Forum article:


Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, has stated, “the potential of older persons is a powerful basis for sustainable development.” However, data on development assistance for health and health burden in 2017 indicate that investment is much higher in the first half of life, despite a higher prevalence of disease and need for care in later life, with an emphasis on treatment over prevention.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the tragic effects of chronic underfunding and undervaluing programs and services to support the needs of older people. The pandemic response has highlighted the pervasive nature of ageism locally, nationally, and internationally. It is a fundamental obstacle to the development of effective health policies. An example of this is the impact of COVID-19 on the long-term care sector, where the high mortality rate is an indicator of the lack of preparedness according to the World Economic Forum article.

COVID-19 may have an irreversible impact on global health and development alike unless there is significant momentum towards advancing universal health coverage and investing in proven, effective preventive interventions such as life course immunization strategies.

Healthy ageing can not only add years to life, but it adds life to years. By providing a framework for action across four action areas, the Decade represents an unprecedented opportunity for "concerted, catalytic and collaborative action to improve the lives of older people, their families, and the communities in which they live." To that end, global leaders and civil society must invest in the potential of healthy older people.


Combating ageism requires a whole-of-society approach comprising citizens, governments, civil society, academia, and industry in order to transform attitudes and actions across generations. The International Federation on Ageing (IFA), as a non-state actor at the WHO and having general consultative status at the UN, is a proud ambassador for the Decade across sectors and disciplines.

If you are a journalist covering this topic – let the experts help with your stories.

These experts are available to speak with media about the Decade, healthy ageing, sustainable development and the importance of preventive health policies – simply click on either expert’s icon to arrange an interview today.


Connect with:
  • Dr. Alexandre Kalache
    Dr. Alexandre Kalache President

    Launched the WHO Active Ageing Policy Framework and the worldwide movement on Age-Friendly Cities among many other enduring initiatives

  • Alana Officer
    Alana Officer Unit Head, Demographic Change and Healthy Ageing

    Alana Officer coordinates the United Nations Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021-2030) & oversees WHO's work on age-friendly environments.

  • Dr. Jesús Felipe  González Roldán
    Dr. Jesús Felipe González Roldán Director General of the National Center for Preventive Programs and Disease Control

    Dr. Jesús Felipe Gónzalez Roldán serves as General Director at the National Center for Preventive Programs and Disease Control in Mexico.

  • Dr. Jane Barratt
    Dr. Jane Barratt Secretary General

    As Secretary General of the IFA Dr Barratt is an internationaly respected speaker on age related issues across the globe.

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