Yogyakarta. Health ministers from 11 Southeast Asian countries met in Yogyakarta on Tuesday and issued a declaration committed to improving health care for senior citizens.
The Yogyakarta Declaration on Aging and Health contains the signatories’ dedication to enacting stronger policies for the elderly, a World Health Organization statement said.
The officials, in town for the 30th meeting of Southeast Asian health ministers and the 65th session of the World Health Organization Regional Committee, agreed to a coherent, comprehensive and integrated approach to promote healthy aging.
The WHO, in its statement, noted that 142 million people, or 8 percent of the region’s population, are above 60 years old and that by 2025, the estimated percentage of elderly people in the region will be twice what it was in 2000.
“The WHO follows a proactive approach to promoting healthy and active aging. People who follow healthy lifestyles and take good care of themselves can expect to remain spry during their eighth, ninth and even tenth decade of life,” WHO director general Margaret Chan said.
She said that the adoption of the declaration was a recognition that healthy aging is a major public health challenge.
“The declaration underscores concern that the economic effects of aging will impact health care and social support systems and will require the attention of policy and decision makers, NGOs and the private sector,” the WHO statement said.
The ministers pledged to develop and bolster national policies as well as formulate multi-sector national alliances to promote healthy aging and to ensure sufficient resources for programs dealing with senior citizens.
They also vowed to strengthen the primary health care system so it could address the needs of the elderly, including service training for professionals to care for them, and to support the creation of dedicated health cadres and social support caregivers.
The ministers are to discuss various health issues, including noncommunicable diseases such as mental health and neurological disorders, during the sessions set to take place on September 7.
They are also slated to talk about the role of the WHO in managing emergencies, training and educating the health services workforce, pandemic influenza preparedness and the challenges to eradicating polio.
The WHO’s Southeast Asia committee comprises Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Democratic people’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and East Timor.