New Delhi: There will be a significant increase in the number of elderly people in the next three decades. Globally, in 2021, 761 million people worldwide were 65 and older, and the number is expected to double to 1.6 billion by 2050, surpassing 1.6 billion. This will account for more than 16 percent of the total population, according to the World Social Report 2023: Leaving No One Behind in an Ageing World released by the United Nations (UN).
To cater to the growing population, the report called for reforms in health-related policies and action plans, as well as the maintenance of good healthcare services. It stated that a better coordination of care across health and social services, as well as across different levels of health care is crucial, it read.
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The report stated that the trend comes with its own challenges and opportunities as the countries strive to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Countries must make significant health and age-related policy reforms, as well as improve the living conditions of billions of people worldwide, in order to address the related SDGs, such as good health and well-being, no poverty, and reducing inequalities.
The countries need to work towards providing better sanitation and medical therapies, adequate access to education and family planning, women’s empowerment, and gender equality.
The report said that inequality remains one of the biggest challenges. In many countries, women live longer than men on average, and the rich live longer than the poor.
These differences stem partly from poor nutrition and exposure to environmental and occupational hazards that are more common among men and people with limited income and education. Inequalities between men and women persist into old age. Economically, women’s lower levels of formal labour market participation, shorter working lives, and lower wages during working years lead to more economic insecurity in later life, the report read.
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Regions with the highest number of older people
The majority of elderly people live in Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, and the majority of Eastern and South-Eastern Asia.In most countries in these regions, the proportion of older persons exceeds 10 per cent and in some cases, it is more than 20 per cent of the total population.
Regions expected to experience a spike in the number of older people
North Africa, West Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa are estimated to have the fastest growth in the number of elderly people over the next three decades.
The UN report advised several sets of actions for the countries:
- Uphold good healthcare services
- Need better coordination of care across health and social services
- Improve education to raise labour productivity and reduce poverty and inequality
- Rethink the long-held policies and practises associated with livelihoods and work
- Introduce flexible retirement ages to accommodate a broad range of personal situations
- Expand work opportunities for women and groups traditionally excluded from the formal job market.
- Promote economic security at older ages in a fiscally sustainable manner, with respect to pensions and healthcare
- Increase pension coverage while ensuring adequate funding.
- Introduce or expand tax-funded pension plans to ensure that all elderly people have a basic level of income security
The World Health Organization and the UN have designated 2021–2030 as the “Decade of Healthy Aging, building on the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing that aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals.
The demand for long-term care is increasing in many countries as the elderly population grows.
Li Junhua, UN under-secretary-general for Economic and Social Affairs, said,
Together, we can address today’s inequalities for the benefit of tomorrow’s generations, managing the challenges and capitalizing on the opportunities that population ageing brings.
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NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.