Global experts highlight innovations for healthy aging across the APEC region
Puerto Varas, CHILE (August 21, 2019) – The Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) today joined global experts and government leaders for the 9th APEC High-Level Meeting on Health & the Economy. At the meeting, GCOA CEO Michael Hodin led a panel discussion highlighting best practices in healthy aging and elder care from around the region, stressing the importance of investing in prevention and healthy aging for economies to achieve long-term fiscal sustainability.
“APEC economies are leading the way in recognizing population aging as a driver of innovation,” said Hodin during the panel discussion. “And we are finally beginning to view these innovations – from adult vaccines to artificial intelligence and elder homecare to address conditions of aging such as fragility fractures and heart failure – as investments in our future economic growth and the sustainability of our public systems, each of which illustrates the importance that prevention strategies have in assisting all societies to meet the goals of healthier and more active aging for all.”
APEC economies are among those with the most rapidly aging populations in the world. Noting the importance of adapting not only health care systems, but entire economies to the needs of an aging population, speakers identified new and innovative strategies and partnerships that APEC economies can use to embrace and support the needs of their aging populations. In doing so, APEC economies can foster economic growth for all citizens, even as their aging population increases.
“A central goal of APEC economies must be to keep our populations healthy, active, and engaged, which requires investments in functional ability,” said PAHO’s Dr. Enrique Vega Garcia. “Studies show that increased mobility promotes a higher quality of life and greater social and economic participation, all of which contribute to greater health and wellbeing, and lower costs. For instance, by focusing on preventive strategies that address the conditions of aging, such as fragility fractures, vision loss, and vulnerability to vaccine-preventable diseases, we can help improve mobility and independence for aging populations across APEC economies.”
As an example of progress in healthy aging, this year’s APEC HLM has shined a light on the importance of adult vaccines, with the power to prevent diseases including pneumococcal pneumonia and influenza, as a central element of 21st-century public health strategies to match the achievements in childhood immunization from last century.
The two-day event convened representatives from 21 APEC economics, along with representatives from academia, private sector companies and NGOs.
“Strategic investments to keep our populations healthy and active create a virtuous cycle of innovation, growth, and widespread benefit,” said Penny Wan, Regional VP and General Manager, JAPAC at Amgen. “At Amgen, we recognize that aging trends demand action and advocacy towards prediction and prevention of fragility fractures, heart failure, and other conditions that increase with age. We should be investing in solutions that make this possible, which we know will pay critical dividends, not just for individuals who achieve healthier and more active aging, but for their families and society as a whole.”
The panel on elder care innovation and economic growth was moderated by Hodin and included distinguished speakers Sebastian Villarreal,Undersecretary of Social Services at the Ministry of Social Development and Family in Chile; Dr. Jane Barratt, Secretary General of the International Federation on Ageing; Dr. Enrique Vega Garcia, Unit Chief of Healthy Life Course at PAHO/WHO; Paul Neureiter, Executive Director for International Government Affairs, Amgen; and Professor Ian Wronski AO, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Division of Tropical Health and Medicine at James University.