APEC economies are committed to pursuing more innovative partnerships to address the health, social, and economic impacts of the region’s rapidly ageing population, said senior officials attending the 9th APEC High-Level Meeting on Health & the Economy at the APEC 3rd Senior Officials’ Meetings.
Health Ministers, Deputy Health Ministers, academic and industry leaders, and representatives of non-governmental and international organizations convened in Puerto Varas, Chile, to explore the opportunities and challenges that ageing populations present in enabling sustainable economic growth and development across economies.
The APEC region includes some of the most rapidly ageing populations in the world. A third of all APEC economies are projected to be “super-aged” within the next decade, meaning more than a fifth of their population will be older than 65 years of age.
“We need a completely different way of looking at ageing,” said Chile’s Minister of Health Dr. Jaime Mañalich in his opening address. “We need to recognize that it is not possible to address the challenges of ageing exclusively from a health perspective but is necessary to begin to understand the health system from an inter-sectoral perspective,” he added.
APEC economies agreed to the critical importance of promoting healthy ageing in the region, where older persons have access to the tools needed to age well and continue to learn, grow, make decisions, and actively contribute to society beyond increasing life expectancy.
“The promotion of healthy and active ageing is a prerequisite to ensuring sustainable and inclusive economic growth,” said Vice-Minister of Health Dr Yasuhiro Suzuki of Japan, who is also encouraging a focus on ageing during Japan’s G20 host year. “One of Japan’s goals for 2040 is to extend healthy life expectancy more than 3 years by focusing on prevention of disease and long-term care.”
Currently, APEC economies are pursuing innovative partnerships that promote awareness of integrated care and person-centered, gender-responsive approaches, which are considered optimal for healthy ageing.
APEC officials were reminded to consider the needs of older persons when transforming health and social systems in pursuit of universal health coverage. For example, new strategies are needed to address the major shortage of health workers to care for ageing populations in the Asia-Pacific region. Informal caregivers such as family members are an important but often overlooked component to health systems.
Other issues highlighted include the critical role of prevention, including vaccination, access to vision care and oral health, promoting healthy lifestyles, and the integration of prevention into strategies to address dementia, estimated to have cost the region USD 185 billion dollars in 2015. Critical to effective prevention and the acceptability of healthcare for older persons is addressing stigma and discrimination around ageing.
Lastly, participants recognized the work undertaken by APEC to enable life sciences and digital health innovation and ensure access to quality, safe, and effective health products.
Hosted by APEC 2019 host economy Chile, the High-Level Meeting was supported by the APEC Health Working Group and the APEC Life Sciences Innovation Forum, who will release a Joint Statement to emphasize the importance of promoting healthy ageing in the APEC region.
For more information on the Health Working Group, please visit here.
For more information on the Life Sciences Innovation Forum, please visit here.
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