Innovation and healthy aging are profoundly linked through digital technology co-design with and for older adults
New York, NEW YORK (May 17, 2022) – For the first time in its history, the United Nations (UN) World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) marks the global importance of aging as the defining demographic shift of the 21st century. The day, which celebrates the founding of the UN’s International Telecommunications Union and the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865, this year focuses on the aging of the global society – and its huge opportunities to enable a healthier and more active aging for all.
Opening this year-round awareness campaign on Digital Technologies for Older Persons and Healthy Ageing was a High-level Panel at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) 2022 Forum, headed by ITU Secretary-General Mr. Houlin Zhao. Joining this esteemed panel was Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, Deputy Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO); Her Excellency Ms. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister of Communication and Digitalization, Ghana; Ms. My Linh Kha, SVP and General Manager, Japan-Asia-Pacific, Amgen; Dr. Jane Barratt, Secretary-General, International Federation on Ageing; and Mr. Justin Derbyshire, CEO, HelpAge International.
With the backdrop of the Decade of Healthy Ageing, Ms. My Linh Kha, SVP Amgen, added, “I am honored to be representing Amgen and the Global Coalition on Aging at this World Telecommunications and Information Day dedicated to older persons and digital inclusion, and to be a part of such an esteemed panel of leaders.” Adding that “now that we are in the second year of the Decade of Healthy Ageing, we look to the role digital health can play as a central part of 21st century healthcare where healthy longevity will depend on a predict-and-prevent model that has wellness and prevention at its core.” Ms. Kha further explained, “from oncology and cardiovascular disease to osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s, our personal healthier aging and health systems’ fiscal sustainability both depend on transforming from the acute care sickness model to the predict-and-prevent healthy aging model.”
In recognition of the importance of this global demographic trend, this day is launching a global awareness campaign among ITU membership, partners, and globally diverse stakeholders. ITU will lead the world in underscoring the critical role of telecommunications in supporting people to stay healthy, connected, and independent – physically, emotionally, and financially. “This awareness is the foundation of ITU’s support for the Decade of Healthy Ageing – a major initiative by the WHO supported and promoted by the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA),” said Michael Hodin, CEO of GCOA and founding partner of the WSIS Track on ICTs and Older Persons. “It echoes the need to pivot viewpoints on global aging, seeing the trend as an opportunity to heighten awareness among governments, business, civil society, and NGOs and to combat the ageism that has so far been a key barrier to progress,” said Hodin. “We have in our grasp the opportunity to turn the 20th century miracle of longevity into 21st century healthy longevity if we can harness and apply the power of digital technology for all ages.”