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Written Statement by the International Federation on Ageing for the 73rd Session of the World Health Assembly, 18-19 May 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has made visible in the starkest possible ways the importance of protecting and respecting the rights of older people, which are fundamental human rights. Aligned with the Decade of Healthy Ageing 2020-2030, the International Federation on Ageing calls for Member States to prioritize the legal rights of older people to live long and healthy lives within the four action areas: ageism, integrated primary care, long term care and age-friendly cities and communities.

Today more than ever discrimination against older people has revealed its life and death consequences. Lockdowns without social systems do not protect older people who may no longer be able to receive services that they depend upon to survive and thrive in the community. Triage policies for testing and treatment based only on chronological age reveals an approach that does not value and respect ‘all ages’ nor considers that age is an independent risk factor. Standards and practice of long-term care facilities have in large part failed the residents and families with a few exceptions.

For the aforementioned reasons, the International Federation on Ageing calls on Member States to:


  1. Address the needs of older persons during periods of fiscal consolidation after the pandemic, through investment in age-friendly health systems, community services, and environments;
  2. Prioritize the establishment and / or reform of long-term care systems as a priority to current and future generations of older people and their families;
  3. Improve testing and treatment and ensure adequate, integrated health care of older persons during and after the COVID-19 pandemic;
  4. Invest in the collection and utilization of disaggregated data beyond 70 years of age, which is essential to ensuring no one is left behind; and
  5. Reconfirm the critical role of civil society in intergovernmental deliberations, as both implementers and partners, as is highlighted as a requirement in the Sustainable Development Goals.

Find all statements from non-State actors in official relations with WHO at WHO governing bodies meetings for the seventy-third World Health Assembly here.

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