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Saturday, November 1, 2014

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Raising Awareness of Adult Vaccinations

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Immunization is a core component of the human right to health, a standard element in any effective, preventative public health approach, and an individual, community, and governmental responsibility.  Current advocacy efforts to promote the importance of immunization have focused primarily on children, yet there is a grave lack of awareness about the fact that older people are equally, if not more vulnerable to the spread of infectious diseases.

IFA has created a survey to better understand the uptake of adult vaccinations and to promote awareness of the importance of vaccinations throughout the life course.

Older People: The Forgotten Generation

world_we_want_logoThe United Nations is currently negotiating the international development framework to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) post-2015. Also known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this framework sets a standard with a universal agenda that also coincides with the UN theme of the International Day of Older Persons 2014 “Leaving No One Behind: Promoting a Society for All”.

However, some fear that international development politics may continue to focus on existing priorities, with the voice of older people continuing to be sidelined.

Ken Bluestone, Age International, discusses how the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons seemingly excluded age as a category in the post-2015 agenda of data to be collected. In its letter, the High Level Panel wrote: “We recall our proposal that targets should only be considered achieved if met by all relevant social and income groups – disaggregating data by gender, geography, income, disability and other categories to ensure that no-one is left behind.” The inclusion of older people as a marginalised group in the new framework is vital in ensuring the reduction of discrimination, isolation and marginalisation in later life.

For more information, please read the blog by Ken Bluestone – Older People: the forgotten generation.

Social Innovation Solutions and Technology for Active and Healthy Ageing

UntitledTo mark the 2014 International Day of Older Persons the Vienna NGO Committee on Ageing organized a special event on the topic: Social Innovation Solutions and Technology for Active and Healthy Ageing.

The Vienna NGO Committee on Ageing Members were unanimous in their conviction that better understanding of new technologies as well as having a voice in the development of products and services is of utmost importance to reach full integration of older people into society.

A set of Recommendations formulated by the Members of the Vienna NGO Committee on Ageing concerning the production and usability of new technologies were agreed upon following the debate. These include:

  • an extended Public-Private-Partnership for successful implementation of new technologies;
  • applicable and supportive new technologies for older persons;
  • consultation of older persons that use or will be using these products;
  • and help lines for assistance with these devices.

Ageing and Poverty in India

21 porter in wholesale marketResearch undertaken into older people’s lives in India has found that older people play a significant but unacknowledged role in India’s economy.  The researchers, Dr Penny Vera-Sanso and Dr V Suresh, conducted research in urban South India between 2007 and 2013, finding that not only did older people contribute to family budgets but they also buttress the national and global economy by supplying low-cost services to workers and low-cost inputs to industry.  To see how widespread older people’s work is in India as a whole, the research team launched a national photo competition with The Hindu newspaper.  The nearly 3,000 photos submitted irrefutably demonstrated that older people are working throughout India’s mountains, plains, coasts, villages, towns and cities.

To get their findings into the public domain the researchers have pursued a number of strategies including a photographic essay, which they have exhibited as a pop up exhibition in India, and production of two documentaries with award winning director, Deepa Dhanraj.  The documentaries were shot in three locations, urban Tamil Nadu, rural Rajasthan and tribal Maharashtra in order to capture the diversity and commonalities of older people’s situation.

We’re Still Working (17 mins), unseats the assumption of old age dependency by uncovering the extent to which older people are shouldering the burden of India’s economic development, yet their work and moral and legal rights as workers, citizens and people remain unacknowledged.  In The Forgotten Generation (40 mins) older people reveal the reality of their lives, relationships and work as well as their expectations of the future.  We learn how they manoeuvre within tight constraints to create new social and economic opportunities for themselves, their families and friends and how targeted social pensions are producing Kafka-esque encounters with the State.

Dr Penny Vera-Sanso, Birkbeck, University of London, p.vera-sanso@bbk.ac.uk

Dr V Suresh, Centre for Law, Policy and Human Rights Studies, Chennai

World Older People Day Amid the On-going Ebola Crisis in Liberia

IMG_5445In observance of World Older People Day held globally on 1 October, the Coalition of Caregivers and Advocates for the Elderly in Liberia (COCAEL) held an impressive ceremony to recognize the contributions of older people in Liberia amid the on-going Ebola crisis on the same day under the theme “Do Not Leave Liberia’s Older People Behind”.

The event brought together older people, representatives of provider agencies of Old Folks Homes and community-based organizations catering to older people in various communities, the Ageing Unit of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Liberia, and advocacy groups for the elderly. Some of the older people raised concern about the lack of adequate attention being paid to their welfare by the government and commended COCAEL for bringing their caregivers and advocates together in order to serve them effectively. For more information, please read the COCAEL press release.

The COCAEL has also recently set up an Ebola Response Committee to design strategies and mobilize resources to provide an effective Ebola Response for older people in Liberia.

If you have not yet donated to COCAEL to help them protect older persons among the Ebola crisis, you can donate through the IFA website [here].

WHO Age-Friendly World

In order to make our world more age-friendly by facilitating the inclusion of older persons, the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a key strategy known as Age-Friendly World. This enables people of all ages to actively participate in community activities, stay connected to those around you and those you love, stay healthy and active even at the oldest ages, and helps those who can no longer look after themselves to live with dignity and enjoyment.

Many cities and communities are already taking active steps towards becoming more age-friendly by creating accessible, barrier-free, inclusive and cohesive communities for all ages. A new dedicated website, Age-Friendly World, supports them in this endeavor by providing a one-stop-shop on age-friendly action at the local level: guides and tools, age-friendly practices and information on hundreds of city and community initiatives around the world.

The WHO goals to collect data on which cities and communities are contributing to age-friendly practices can be implemented by completing a survey [here] as well as an application form to join the WHO Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities [here].

Age-friendly world

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