For the first time in human history, the world will soon have more older people than children. The human race is ageing and we are unprepared. Unless we change the way we think and act about ageing, we will miss the opportunity to age in good health and to build a society where older people are respected and valued members of society. That is why this year the World Health Organization (WHO) is dedicating it's birthday - on 7 April - World Health Day - to healthy ageing.
Every year, World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April to mark the anniversary of the founding of WHO in 1948. World Health Day is a global campaign, inviting everyone – from global leaders to the public in all countries – to focus on a single health challenge with global impact. Focusing on new and emerging health issues, World Health Day provides an opportunity to start collective action to protect people's health and well-being. It is an opportunity to engage in finding solutions that benefit us all.
"Good health adds life to years"
Ageing and health - to which each and every one of us can relate - is the theme of this year's World Health Day. Using the slogan "Good health adds life to years", campaign activities and materials focus on how good health throughout life can help older men and women lead full and productive lives and be a resource for their families and communities.
Populations around the world are rapidly ageing. This is a cause for celebration. In part it reflects our successes in dealing with childhood disease, maternal mortality and in helping women achieve control over their own fertility.
Challenges and opportunities
Ageing will also present both challenges and opportunities. It will strain pension and social security systems, increase demand for acute and primary health care, require a larger and better trained health workforce and increase the need for long term care, particularly in dealing with dementia.
However, the opportunities are just as large. Older people are a wonderful resource for their families, communities and in the formal or informal workforce. They are a repository of knowledge. They can help us avoid making the same mistakes again.
Indeed, if we can ensure older people live healthier as well as longer lives, if we can make sure that we are stretching life in the middle and not just at the end, these extra years can be as productive as any others. The societies that adapt to this changing demographic can reap a sizeable "longevity dividend", and will have a competitive advantage over those that don't.
This Toolkit will help you plan activities to celebrate World Health Day in 2012. It includes the following materials:
Anyone who wishes to organize World Health Day events or activities is welcome to use the Toolkit and its materials. Our partners include governments, members of the WHO Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities, and non-member cities and communities who wish to become age-friendly. Individuals, academia, professional and older people's associations, civil society and private sector organizations may also find inspiration for action on ageing and health.
Watch and share the official World Health Day 2012 video, and join the conversation on healthy ageing on Twitter #AddHealth2Life to be part of the change.
Follow the campaign topic on twitter (@WHO), hashtag: #AddHealth2Life
The Brussels based United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe - UNRIC provides information on UN activities to the countries of the region. It also provides liaison with institutions of the European Union in the field of information. Its outreach activities extend to all segments of society and joint campaigns, projects and events are organized with partners including the EU, governments, the media, NGOs, schools and local authorities.
United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC Brussels)
Residence Palace, Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 155, Block C2,7th and 8th floor, Brussels 1040, Belgium
Tel.: +32 2 788 8484 / Fax: 32 2 788 8485