What WHO is doing
Ensuring medication safety
One key risk for older people is the inappropriate use of medication. WHO is developing a clinical package including medication prescribing protocols, a patient approach to empower older patients to manage their own medications and a community approach to raise awareness and rationalize demand for the medications most commonly used by older people. WHO will soon launch its Third Global Patient Safety Challenge which will focus on medication safety, in particular for elderly patients.
Strategies to foster women's health often target issues concerning reproduction yet women face particular health challenges in older age as well. To address the needs of women beyond the years of reproduction, WHO is developing an initiative on a life-course approach to the health of women. A number of projects are planned, including a theme issue in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization in 2013, and a study of the benefits across the life course of investing in women and children’s health.
Addressing the needs of older people in emergency situations
Recent emergencies and disasters have demonstrated that, while older people are one of the most significant vulnerable population groups, their needs are often poorly addressed. WHO will work with partners such as HelpAge International to ensure the needs of older people are better addressed in community risk assessments, vulnerability reduction measures, risk communications, response planning and operations and recovery. WHO's work with partners on mental health, safer health facilities, noncommunicable diseases and disability related to disasters will also contribute to knowledge and action to improve health outcomes for older people in emergencies and disasters.
The WHO Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities
To encourage the creation of environments that support healthy and active ageing, WHO has developed the Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities.
Already, national or regional programmes are underway in countries including Canada, France, Ireland, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Slovenia, Spain and United States of America. Each of these has committed to a cycle of continual improvement that will address key aspects of the environment such as accessibility, transport, intergenerational links, respect and service provision. The first global conference on age-friendly cities was held in late 2011, and plans are underway to launch an electronic portal connecting the cities and allowing others to see what has been done.