Ageing and health: Good health adds life to years

On the occasion of the World Health Day – April 7th, the Ministry of Health of Montenegro and the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office organized a round table on the theme of WHD 2012: “Ageing and health: Good health adds life to years”.  The focus of this year’s WHD is promotion of good health over the life course to improve prospects of an individual to lead healthy and productive life in later life.

Participants of the round table discussed various aspects of elderly people health and lifestyle. The Head of the World Health Organization Country Office in Montenegro, Mina Brajović stated that increased life expectancy in Europe is a result of the overall social and economic development. “We need to match adding years to life with improved quality of life. In an environment of demographic change and rising fiscal constraints, healthy and active ageing has become key to the future sustainability of health and social care systems”, said Brajović.

She reminded that aging concerns everyone, whether male or female, rich or poor and regardless of where they live, thus should be planned accordingly. “From the early years of life one has to prepare for a pleasant and nice elderly age, nice meaning healthy, independent and productive”, Brajović stated. She pointed out that prospects of remaining healthy and active in older age vary greatly between countries, depending on level of investments in a broad range of policies that promote healthy and active ageing. To address the challenges and opportunities of ageing populations, WHO identified three strategic areas of action:

  • healthy ageing over the life-course;
  • work on policies for age-friendly communities/environments;
  • adapting health systems to the changing needs of an ageing population.

The Minister of Health Miodrag Radunović stressed out the importance of the role which elderly people have in a society that goes through changes. “Old people should not be marginalised as they are precious resource of society. Only a society that takes care of the elderly is ready for change”, said Radunović.

Participants of the round table presented global trends which show that the world population is growing older, highlighting not so optimistic figures regarding demographic structure of the Montenegrin population.

“Montenegro, one of the youngest UN members, belongs to countries with a very old population. 17 percent of our population is 60 age or older”, Brajović said.

Miodrag Radunović, Minstar of Health warned that current trends show that the number of people over 80 years will be four times higher by 2050. “Every fourth person will be older than 65 by 2050”, Radunović added, stressing that elderly people health requires multi-sector approach, as well as each individual taking care of his or her own health.

The round table included a set of presentations on the role and importance of primary health care in delivering quality and equitable health services to elderly, immunization, burden of non-communicable diseases, social services for elderly people, experience from the project “Geronto housewife”, palliative care, etc.. Each year on the occasion of the World Health Day, WHO launches a global campaign calling on countries’ leaders to focus on a public health problem of global significance, asking for joint actions to protect and improve health and wellbeing of people.