Dr. Linda P. Fried, the Director of the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center and the Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, delivered an Expert Reflection at the event titled "The UN Decade of Healthy Ageing: Health for All by Adding Life to Years." She spoke in her capacity as the Co-chair of the US National Academy of Medicine’s Global Roadmap for Healthy Longevity Commission.

The event took place on May 23, 2023, in Geneva, with both in-person and online attendance, attracting a large global audience.

The purpose of the event was to provide a platform for Member States to engage in an open dialogue on maximizing the opportunities presented by longevity during the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing. Participants had the opportunity to hear from Member States such as Singapore, Botswana, Kuwait, Costa Rica, and Slovenia, who shared insights on their investments in healthy ageing, the returns on investment they are witnessing, and how they are utilizing new resources and evidence to implement the UN Decade. The discussion also included reflections from the World Health Organization and the United States National Academy of Medicine.

Dr. Etienne Krug, the Director of the Department of Social Determinants of Health at the WHO, delivered the welcome greetings. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the WHO, and Dr. Victor J. Dzau, the President of the US National Academy of Medicine (pre-recorded), presented introductory remarks.

Mr. Ong Ye Kung, the Minister of Health of Singapore, chaired the session, which featured the following panelists:

  • H.E. Mr. Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Health, Singapore (Chair)
  • H.E. Dr. Edwin Dikoloti, Minister of Health and Wellness, Botswana
  • H.E. Dr. Ahmed Abdulwahab Al-Alwadhi, Minister for Health, Kuwait
  • H.E. Dr. Alexei Carillo Villegas, Vice Minister for Health, Costa Rica
  • H.E. Dr. Vesna Kerstin Petrič, Director-General, Public Health Directorate, Ministry of Health, Slovenia

Throughout the event, there was an emphasis on the notion that “while we have succeeded in adding years to life (extending lifespan), we must now focus on adding life to years (extending the number of years lived in good health).” The panelists highlighted that investments in healthy aging not only benefit the health sector but also have positive impacts on other sectors such as work, the economy, education, and more. Furthermore, they stressed that such investments would improve the health and well-being of current and future generations of older people.

During her Expert Reflection, Dr. Linda P. Fried, who serves as the Co-chair of the Global Roadmap for Healthy Longevity Commission at the US National Academy of Medicine, posed the question, “How do we, as a global community, comprehend the longer lifespan with its benefits and challenges?” Quoting the conclusion of the National Academy of Medicine study, she commented on the tremendous benefits for both older and younger generations. However, she also highlighted the enormous challenges and the high cost of inaction. Dr. Fried emphasized that generating substantial social and economic benefits for all age groups from the extended lifespan would necessitate transformative efforts in every sector of society, as well as collaboration among all sectors and countries.

Authors: Peri Osako, ILC Global Alliance volunteer, with MMO

Photo: The World Health Assembly side event website


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