Thursday, March 08, 2012

Healthy Ageing 2: World Congress on Healthy Ageing

Healthy ageing is one of my important goals in life as I approach my 5th decade in this planet, and as my young daughters are growing up. I got married late, I need to keep a healthy body to prepare for my kids' future, with the help of my wife of course. I may not become rich after all, I have been rather lousy on expanding my personal finance, but I wish to remain healthy, and so far I have been successful in this.

I think healthy ageing is everyone's dream, except those who have adopted a defeatist attitude, either by emotional or biological constraints, and wish to move to the other life soon. To live a long and peaceful life, away from crippling diseases, especially those that can be prevented or controlled via healthy lifestyle, until human biology says that time is up.

I was happily surprised to hear from a good friend, Catherine Barr Windels, that there is now a Global Coalition on Ageing (GCA),, and she's actively involved in it. Cathy is also the President of The Policy Workshop

Looking at the GCA website, I find this description rather cool:
The Global Coalition on Aging is committed to a vision where innovative market solutions enabled by progressive public policy create a framework for healthy and active aging. We will shape the public discussion on how policymakers, businesses and society at large can comprehensively address these new demographic realities and apply innovative solutions that recognize the opportunity of global aging.
Innovative market solutions, free market approach to healthy ageing, I like that. Now here's another eye opener for me. There are country association on healthy ageing, like the Malaysian Healthy Ageing Society (MHAS). I have not heard yet of such society or organization in the Philippines yet. Probably soon.

MHAS, probably in partnership with GCA, is organizing the 1st World Congress on Healthy Ageing,

This is cool. And the description clearly says it,
Healthy ageing is one of the major challenges for the world. The consequences of the demographic transition will have a tremendous impact on economy, health, social development and welfare of societies. Consequently, there is a need to enhance our knowledge about the promotion of good health among young and older people for a better quality of life in its later stages. Healthy ageing fostered by systematically planned health promotion efforts, was mentioned as early as 1998 as Target 5 in the WHO policy "Health for All in the 21st Century". Active ageing (according to the European Commission) includes life-long learning, working longer, retiring later and more gradually, being active after retirement and engaging in capacity-enhancing and health-sustaining activities. 
These are all lifestyle-change related, "healthcare is mainly personal responsibility" philosophy. So what is the role of government here? My bias towards limited or minimal government philosophy says leaving the various markets in healthcare -- health insurance, medicine innovation, healthcare (including hospitals/clinics) competition -- to offer various services to the aged and their family will do the trick. Since governments will still intervene no matter how we caution against such move, then government role should be limited to controlled subsidies to healthcare of the senior citizens.

Responsible people have their own savings, or have responsible family members, friends and relatives, or have network with health NGOs, civic and private charity organizations who can help them out.

Lifestyle-related diseases and hence, unhealthy ageing can be managed if not controlled. I salute these private initiatives like the GCA and the forthcoming 1st Global Congress. The various health departments or ministries of national governments, including the WHO and other multilateral agencies, should assure these private NGOs and civil society organizations (CSOs) that their intervention to "innovative market solutions" should be kept to the minimum, including taxation of health-related goods and services.

Btway, there will be one Filipino physician/scientist who will be among the panel speakers in that global conference, Dr. Antonio Dans, of the UP College of Medicine. Dr. Dans' papers on NCDs, like those published in The Lancet, are well-quoted by the DOH and WHO here.

See also:
Healthy Ageing 1: The Caregiver Village, February 13, 2012
Lifestyle Diseases 6: Personal Care against NCDs, October 14, 2011
Lifestyle Diseases 7: Drinking and Healthcare, October 18, 2011
Lifestyle Diseases 17: On Cancer, COPD and NCD Risk Factors, March 05, 2012

Lifestyle Diseases 18: Addressing NCDs via Preventive Healthcare, March 05, 2012

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