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Amplifying the Potential of Healthy Ageing for Sustainable Development

February 11, 2021  · 2 min read

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that by 2050, 80% of older people will be living in low- and middle-income countries. In the context of the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing 2021-2030 (the Decade) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development the time to invest in healthy ageing to support a sustainable future is now, according to a recent World Economic Forum article:


Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, has stated, “the potential of older persons is a powerful basis for sustainable development.” However, data on development assistance for health and health burden in 2017 indicate that investment is much higher in the first half of life, despite a higher prevalence of disease and need for care in later life, with an emphasis on treatment over prevention.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the tragic effects of chronic underfunding and undervaluing programs and services to support the needs of older people. The pandemic response has highlighted the pervasive nature of ageism locally, nationally, and internationally. It is a fundamental obstacle to the development of effective health policies. An example of this is the impact of COVID-19 on the long-term care sector, where the high mortality rate is an indicator of the lack of preparedness according to the World Economic Forum article.

COVID-19 may have an irreversible impact on global health and development alike unless there is significant momentum towards advancing universal health coverage and investing in proven, effective preventive interventions such as life course immunization strategies.

Healthy ageing can not only add years to life, but it adds life to years. By providing a framework for action across four action areas, the Decade represents an unprecedented opportunity for "concerted, catalytic and collaborative action to improve the lives of older people, their families, and the communities in which they live." To that end, global leaders and civil society must invest in the potential of healthy older people.


Combating ageism requires a whole-of-society approach comprising citizens, governments, civil society, academia, and industry in order to transform attitudes and actions across generations. The International Federation on Ageing (IFA), as a non-state actor at the WHO and having general consultative status at the UN, is a proud ambassador for the Decade across sectors and disciplines.

If you are a journalist covering this topic – let the experts help with your stories.

These experts are available to speak with media about the Decade, healthy ageing, sustainable development and the importance of preventive health policies – simply click on either expert’s icon to arrange an interview today.

Featured Experts:
Other Experts:
  • a

    Dr. Sadie Bell, BSc, PhD

    Older People's Health
    Health Services Research
    Health Care Policy
    Health Inequalities
    Disease Control
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    Prof. Peter Lloyd-Sherlock

    Public Policy
    Alzheimer's
    Cardiovascular Diseases
    Human Rights
    Active Ageing
  • a

    Dr. Rory Fisher

    Frailty
    Public Policy
    Quality of Care
  • a

    Dr. Javier Garau

    Vaccination
    COVID-19
    Primary Respiratory Pathogens
    Epidemiology
    Management of Community-Acquired Infection
    Epidemiology and Antibiotic Resistance
    Coronavirus
  • a

    Dr. Johannes Egerer

    Genetics
    German Social System
    Knowledge Management
    Eye Diseases
    Diabetes
    Diabetic Retinopathy
    Cell Biology
    Accessibility of Medical Products
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