Ageing and Life Course

Knowledge translation

The world's population aged 60 and over will more than triple from 600 million to 2 billion between the years 2000 to 2050. Majority of this increase is occurring in less developed countries where the number of people older than 60 will rise from 400 million in the year 2000 to 1.7 billion by the year 2050. While these figures are not new and have been in the public domain for a while, many countries are not putting in place policies and programs to deal with the onset of this "grey tsunami".

This demographic change has significant impact on the health, social, and economic sectors of all countries. Many countries can benefit from having guidance on how to advance policy and system development to deal with this phenomenon. Whether it is maintaining active ageing societies, or dealing with growing chronic diseases, housing and other community and social elements of ageing, understanding how to make use of evidence to develop a national approach to the ageing agenda is essential.

Closing the "know-do" gap

Knowledge derived from research and experience may be of little value unless it is put into practice. The need to ensure that research into older peoples' health is effectively translated to policy and practice is immediate and will increase as populations’ age. Ensuring the use of research and evidence in health system management, policy and decision making is an important challenge in this century.

Knowledge translation (KT) has emerged as a paradigm to address many of the challenges and start closing the "know-do" gap. KT is defined as “The synthesis, exchange, and application of knowledge by relevant stakeholders to accelerate the benefits of global and local innovation in strengthening health systems and improving people’s health.”

WHO activities

WHO has a major role to play in enhancing KT and bridging the know–do gap. Given the large scope of this challenge, in general and specific to ageing and health, WHO commissioned a report to review and assess current KT theories and frameworks that have been discussed in the literature, and with the assistance of case studies, develop a guiding framework for the application of KT in ageing and health. This report is based on that commissioned work and presents the recommended framework as well as examples of ageing and health initiatives.

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