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Advocate to include aging health into WHO Work Program – Update

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Aging - 90 Percent 1An update on the issue of the exclusion of the subject of aging health and any measures for its improvement from the WHO Work Program for 2019-2023. An advocacy campaign has been taking place to introduce these issues into the WHO Work Program, via the open public consultation that WHO now conducts about the program. It is really easy to participate in the consultation, to tell the WHO that aging health is important and R&D for healthy longevity is important. Any one can do it right now via this link:

Some backgrounds on the WHO work program and this advocacy campaign:

Now the update (as of November 25, 2017):

It looks like our joint advocacy efforts so far with the WHO had some effects. About 90% of the responses (of over 400 by Nov. 19 and more are coming in) were about the lack of aging in the WHO program. And following those comments, as the “proposed action” WHO apparently plans to commit to including WHO’s earlier “Global Strategy and Action Plan on Aging and Health – GSAP” in its work program (including GSAP strategic objective 5 “Improving measurement, monitoring and research on Healthy Ageing”).

(Of course, that is just partial information, mainly according to the WHO Presentation

It is still too early to make any definite conclusions. We will still need to watch the process for the long run, and respond accordingly.)

But apparently some contribution was made. Thank you very much for your involvement and effort!

That is just a start. We can still advocate with WHO for the strong emphasis on aging health and R&D for healthy longevity through May 2018 (when the work program is submitted to the WHO assembly).

Even now you are welcome to continue responding to the WHO consultation, and emphasize the importance of aging health and biomedical aging research, as the deadline was again extended through Nov. 29, if you have not yet done so

Please also spread the word (also in the media and social media, as mass media ignores this topic, even though this issue relates basically to everybody). We have to make the need to promote aging health overwhelmingly clear to WHO (>95%)! 

In particular, please see: The joint position statement, entitled “Aging health and R&D for healthy longevity must be included into the WHO Work Program” published in Aging and Disease. 9(1):1-3, 2018. Available on line:

The signatories include leaders of the International Society on Aging and Disease (ISOAD), American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR), International Federation on Ageing (IFA), International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics – IAGG (European Region and Asia-Oceania), International Longevity Center – Australia, The Gerontological Society of the Russian Academy of Sciences, African Society for Ageing Research and Development (ASARD), Israeli Longevity Alliance/Vetek (Seniority) Association (Israel).

You may consider some of the points raised in that position statement, and are welcome to reference this document in your advocacy efforts!

Thanks again!

Ilia Stambler, PhD

Outreach coordinator. International Society on Aging and Disease (ISOAD)

Chairman. Israeli Longevity Alliance. CSO. Vetek (Seniority) Association – the Senior Citizens Movement (Israel)

Longevity for all

Further update (as of December 7, 2017).

Concretely, it looks like the WHO intends to amend the draft Work Program to include the clause “Reduce the number 65+ who are care dependent by 15 million”.

That is just a preliminary notion. Yet even this notion appears to be encouraging. Of course, this is not a strong impact objective, considering there are hundreds of millions of elderly whose care dependence needs to be improved, also thanks to developing better therapies and technologies through biomedical research of aging. But it may be a good start for introducing the objective of improving aging health, also for national advocacy efforts — considering that originally the issue was not in the WHO work program at all, and was introduced thanks to the international advocacy campaign!

Update January 9, 2017

Indeed, thanks to the international advocacy campaign, WHO has included a focus on “healthy aging” into the new WHO draft work program (the advance version was published on line on January 5, in the link below). See especially paragraphs 15, 16, 17, 37, including the WHO commitment to advance the Global Strategy and Action Plan (GSAP) on Ageing and Health (until 2020, including the strategic objective 5 for “improving measurement, monitoring and understanding of healthy ageing”) and to prepare for the Decade of Healthy Aging (2020-2030).

Perhaps the most significant for advocacy is that Paragraph 15 of the work program declares the major public health goal “to live not just long but also healthy lives” and suggests the use of “healthy life expectancy” as the main measure of health care success. Such goals and measures for healthy longevity can be advocated and quoted also at the national and local level.

So thanks again to everybody who participated in the campaign to include aging health into the WHO work program for your contribution! Here the head of the WHO Ageing and Life Course division acknowledges the importance of this campaign for the change of the program, and quotes the article “Aging health and R&D for healthy longevity must be included into the WHO work program” as an example of the joint advocacy effort.

Hopefully, this advocacy will continue to ensure healthy longevity is not just planned, but actively advanced and implemented. Let us see what is finally decided at the WHO Executive Board meeting on January 22-27 about the program and the place of healthy longevity and R&D for healthy longevity in it.


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