|Press Release WHA/16
25 May 1999
WHO LAUNCHES PROJECT TO SUPPORT "ACTIVE AGEING"
WHO will begin a pilot project in four African countries to support the development and implementation of policies for the elderly, the team leader of WHO'sprogramme on "Ageing and Health" (AHE), Dr. Alexandre Kalache, told a special briefing of the World Health Assembly in Geneva today.
The 191-member Assembly, which is WHO's governing body, ends its annual session on 25 May.
Dr. Kalache said that the project, which begins in July, will, among other things, involve the collection and analysis of relevant data from Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa and Nigeria.
He said that data collection and analysis will also be carried out at a later stage in other countries and regions of the world, and described the exercise as concrete manifestation of the determination of WHO Director General, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, to promote the concept of "active ageing" - defined as the capacity of people, as they grow older, to lead productive and healthy lives in their families, societies and economies.
Dr. Kalache also announced that on 2 October, WHO will launch a "Global Movement on Active Ageing" a series of walk events worldwide. He indicated that so far 270 cities in 63 countries in all the Regions of WHO had indicated their willingness to participate in the event.
WHO launched the AHE programme in 1995 to promote health and well-being throughout the lifespan, thus ensuring the attainment of the highest possible quality of life for as long as possible, for the largest number of older people. AHE replaces WHO's previous programme of Health for the Elderly.
On 7 April, WHO marked this year's International Year of Older Persons with the theme "Active Ageing Makes the Difference."
In her message on the occasion, WHO Director General Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland said: "Maintaining health and quality of life throughout the lifespan will do much towards building fulfilled lives, a harmonious, intergenerational community and a dynamic economy."
WHO estimates that of the world's current population of around six billion, some 580 million are over the age of 60. By the year 2025, close to 14% of the world's population will be considered old and more than 75% of this will be living in developing countries.
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