Under the title “Rights Matter” the 15th Global Conference on Ageing aims to be a key point of contact for those within the field of ageing. The themes will focus on the four action areas of The Decade of Healthy Ageing 2020-2030, which has now been adopted by the 73rd World Health Assembly and will consist of 10 years of concerted, catalytic, sustained collaboration across governments, civil society, agencies, academia and more. The Decade of Healthy Ageing is aligned with the timing of the United Nations Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The four action areas of The Decade and themes for the 15th Global Conference are: Ageism, Age-friendly environments, Primary care, and Long-term care. The fifth and final theme under the title ‘Rights Matter’ will be on Older People and Pandemics.
Ageism – stereotyping (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) towards people on the basis of their age – impacts everyone no matter their age and has particularly deleterious effects on the health and well-being of older people. Understanding, measuring and reducing ageism requires the development of new metrics, effective interventions and mechanisms to replicate and scale-up good practice to prevent the manifestation of ageism across generations (interpersonal); in systems through laws and policies (institutional); and through internalization (self-directed).
Older people and communities often pay the highest price as they fight not only ageism but all of the other ‘isms’ of our world – such as gender, literacy, ethnicity – and face social exclusion, loneliness, poor health outcomes and more. Efforts to combat ageism including policy changes and shifts to perceptions and attitudes, are needed to empower and facilitate inclusion of people of all ages in economic and social opportunities.
Abstracts can be submitted to the Ageism theme under one of the following sub-themes:
Institutional ageism: health, workplace, media, legal and politics
Reducing ageism: policy and law, campaigns, educational and intergenerational activities
Ageism and equity: gender, ethnicity, literacy, food and income security
Communities that foster the abilities of citizens throughout their entire life are better places in which to grow, live, work, play and age. The environments (physical, social and economic) are determinants of healthy ageing and powerful influences on the experience and opportunities that ageing offers.
An age-friendly environment promotes health and the development and maintenance of physical and mental capacity throughout the life course while enabling people, even when they have diminished capacity, to continue to do things they value. For more than a decade, age-friendly cities and communities have flourished with the leadership of all levels of government but most importantly older people ‘in community’ driving change.
“Age-friendly” is not a stand-alone concept but rather a dynamic platform for social participation and economic growth by improving access to lifelong learning, removing barriers to retaining and hiring older workers and limiting the impact of job loss and poverty, providing adequate pensions and social assistance in financially sustainable ways and reducing inequality in care by better supporting informal caregivers.
Abstracts can be submitted to the theme of Age-friendly communities under one of the following sub-themes:
Settings and implications: urban and rural, high and low income, local, subnational and national
Models, planning and impact: evidence-based action, tools, scaling up and replicating
Barriers and enablers: technology, housing, urban / town planning
Older people have the right to the best possible health. The cornerstone of universal health coverage and the main entry point for older people into the health system is primary health care. Accessible, affordable, equitable, and safe community-based care requires a competent trained workforce that is properly remunerated, framed by appropriate legislation and regulation, and underpinned with sustainable funding.
Investment is required to ensure equity, social justice and social protection, as well as the elimination of widespread ageism which limits the access of older people to suitable health and social services.
Strong systems are flexible systems through improved workforce capacity, technology to exchange information among service providers, standard data requirement on intrinsic capacity and functional ability; and digital technologies to support self-management.
The WHO Integrated Care of Older People (ICOPE) is an example of person-centred approach that supports healthy ageing by addressing priority conditions associated with declines across domains of intrinsic capacity.
Abstracts can be submitted to the theme of Primary care under one of the following sub-themes:
Improving capacities: cognition, mobility, vision, hearing, mental health and oral health
Workforce challenges and actions: caregivers, health workers, training, incentives, and stress
Person-centred approaches: models, good practice, measurement.
Older people, even with significant loss of functional ability, have the right to basic human rights, fundamental freedoms, and to live with dignity. Long-term care (LTC) is a means to ensure that older people, who have reached a point that they can no longer care for themselves, can still experience healthy ageing.
The system that supports this aim spans family members, friends, volunteers, the workforce of paid and unpaid caregivers, care coordination, community-based services, and institutional care (in some countries referred to as residential facilities or nursing homes). Some LTC systems also include services that support caregivers and ensure the quality of the care through the provision of respite care, information, education, accreditation, financing, and training.
Work is needed regarding LTC as it applies to evolving demographic upheavals such as population ageing, migration and urbanization. In many communities, the proportion of younger people available to provide care continues to decrease and many older people are left without families – a model that is not sustainable, especially in a climate of humanitarian emergencies.
Ideally, reablement, restorative care, good nutrition, physical activity, and/or social engagement may improve a person’s capacity to the point that the need for LTC is diminished.
Abstracts can be submitted to the theme of Long-term care under one of the following sub-themes:
Quality and safety: innovative models, use of technology, workforce and infrastructure
Regulations and funding: care standards, building codes and abuse and neglect
Marginalised groups: people with disabilities, indigenous, homeless, people living with dementia
In 2013, a global health catastrophe was narrowly averted in a world unprepared for an outbreak of Ebola. Some ten years earlier, 8,000 cases of SARS were reported in 26 countries but again the impact was not global. In 2019, the WHO stated that “another influenza pandemic was inevitable.
While the world’s attention has turned to public health it is vital to not only reflect on lessons to be learned but the value of immunisation throughout the lifespan to ensure that no one is left behind. This will mean a reorientation of health systems toward prevention, protection and health promotion. Parity in vaccination targets throughout life could be viewed as a key pillar and central component of universal health coverage and likely to reduce health inequalities, relieve pressure on secondary health services and leave them more able to respond to crises.
Living with COVID-19 means that the protection of older adults and those with underlying chronic conditions against vaccine preventable diseases is more important than ever. Maximizing uptake of existing vaccines for respiratory diseases such as influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia reduces the annual burden of disease (increased mortality, morbidity and healthcare costs) particularly in at-risk populations.
Governments must be urged to invest in the lives of all their citizens because every life counts.
Adult vaccination: prevention, access and equity
COVID-19: Lessons learned and actions taken
Vaccination innovations: vaccines, delivery, messaging
 Institutional ageism. (1982). In Nuessel, F.H. Jr. The language of ageism. Gerontologist, 22:273-6
 Long-term care. (2015). In World report on ageing and health. Geneva: World Health Organization
 Wilson, R. (2018). Epidemic: Ebola and the global scramble to prevent the next killer outbreak. Brookings Institution Press
 World Health Organization. (2019). 8 things to know about a pandemic. https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/8-things-to-know-about-pandemic-influenza
 World Federation of Public Health Associations (2016) A Global Charter for the Public’s Health https://www.wfpha.org/wfpha-projects/14-projects/171-a-global-charter-for-the-public-s-health-3