Ahead of World Health Day April 7, top World Health Organization (WHO) officials said Tuesday, making life for the elderly healthy, enriched and productive is a global challenge.
"The challenge for India, as for all countries over the world, is not only to add further years to life but more importantly to add life to years and to ensure that the elderly can live full, enriching and productive lives. For this to be possible, good health is essential," said WHO representative in India Nata Menabde.
The global health body, in partnership with India's health and family welfare ministry, has called for a greater attention to the ageing of India's population, its implications for health policy and for the promotion of a society where the elderly can live full, enriching and productive lives.
The WHO representative lauded the ministry's programme for the elderly's health care.
"The launch of the National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly (NPHCE) by the health ministry is an important step in that direction," Menabde added.
While there has been a steady increase in life expectancy and the elderly population, the burden of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancers, diabetes, and mental health problems are also growing, putting significant additional demands on health services, say experts.
"With trend towards nuclear family, care of the elderly population at the family level will become difficult. Long term care of old and very old will need additional inputs from the families and governments," said Samlee Plianbangchang, WHO regional director for Southeast Asia.
WHO, in collaboration with the health ministry, will be rolling out a series of consultations, workshops and activities involving stakeholders at the national, state and local level ahead of World Health Day, when 19 state-level meetings, as well as a national meeting, will be organized. WHO is also supporting a one-day national meeting at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) April 7.