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Your Later Life Q3 2023

Demanding better healthcare for all older people around the world

Two senior African ladies friends are sitting and chatting, African women traditionally dressed together, adult friendship concept
Two senior African ladies friends are sitting and chatting, African women traditionally dressed together, adult friendship concept
iStock / Getty Images Plus / Media Lens King

Alison Marshall

CEO, Age International 

The world’s population is ageing rapidly, and the number of older people living with a chronic disease or disability is increasing. This is why we are calling for better healthcare support for the older population.

Age International is asking the UK public to sign an open letter to the Minister of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell MP. The letter calls on him to ensure older people are included when governments worldwide meet to discuss access to healthcare. 

Advocates of healthcare for older people 

On 21st September, the Minister will meet with other governments from around the world, at a United Nations high-level meeting, focused on access to healthcare. Age International is inviting everyone in the UK to join the campaign to ensure that older people’s health is not forgotten in the negotiations.  

Previously, the UK Government signed up to a global commitment to ensure affordable and accessible health for all. Despite this, health systems are not meeting even the basic needs of older people.

How to make care more inclusive 

The United Nations High-Level Meeting in September will focus on ‘Universal Health Coverage.’ This means enabling everyone to access good quality health services without financial hardship.  

Better healthcare for older people means:  

  • More investment in tackling chronic diseases including diabetes, cancer and heart disease, which are now the leading cause of death and disability for older people in low and middle-income countries. 
  • Provision of healthcare locally, so older people don’t have to travel long distances to reach a clinic. Delivering healthcare through community groups like older people’s associations is a great way of enabling those most in need — but least able to travel — to get the health support they need. 
  • Ensuring data about older people’s health is included in government plans. 
  • Ensuring care for older people is part of training for health staff. 

Older people have rights like everybody else in the country. They have needs and rights that must be observed. They also need to be listened to and they have the right to receive appropriate
medical attention.

Felista, 61 years old, a health volunteer in the Mukakara region in Nairobi, Kenya
Photo credit: Meg Newts/Age International

Support groups benefit older people 

Age International supports older people’s associations around the world. These community groups provide older people with free health checks, dance and exercise classes and an opportunity to develop friendships. 

Jacinta, ‘Mama Safi’, is 68 years old and is from Nairobi, Kenya. Mama Safi’s home is the meeting place for her local Older People’s Association, supporting older people to keep fit, stay healthy and seek medical care: “In the group, we educate each other, exercise and share ideas that keep us more productive,” she shares. 
“We talk to each other and teach each other things that are beneficial to all of us. We do exercises that keep us healthy and fit. Since we started being together, it has been very good for all of us.” 

Their group regularly invites doctors to deliver eye/vision checks, enabling members to seek further treatment and even operations — for free — if needed. They share knowledge and skills on hygiene and how to prevent disease at home. 

Help us ensure the UK Government highlights older people’s healthcare at the United Nations in September. Leaders, parliamentarians and experts have already signed the letter, as well as Heléna Herklots CBE, the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales. Join them and add your name on 

Mama Safi knitting outside her home
Photo credit: Meg Newts/Age International 

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