Advancing Healthy Ageing in the Western Pacific Moving Forward with the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing
HONG KONG SAR – Media OutReach – 30 October 2023 – Population ageing is a pressing priority in the Western Pacific region, home to one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing elderly populations. Recognizing the significance of this issue, the World Health Organization (WHO) has taken the lead in developing an action plan on healthy ageing for the region, aligned with the United Nations (UN) Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021–2030). In line with these efforts, the Healthy Ageing Conference 2023 was successfully held in Hong Kong on 26-27 October 2023. The conference, organized by the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Community Health Services, School of Nursing of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), and co-organized by the Department of Health of The Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), PolyU Research Institute of Smart Ageing, and PolyU Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, served as a crucial platform to address the challenges and explore innovative solutions for healthy ageing in the region.
The conference’s opening ceremony marked its official commencement, with esteemed speakers delivering their addresses. Professor Jin-guang TENG, President of PolyU, welcomed participants and emphasized the pivotal role of the conference in realizing the United Nations’ vision of healthy ageing. “The conference aimed to address the multifaceted factors influencing the well-being of older individuals and their families. It provided a platform to showcase cutting-edge gerontechnological innovations, discuss the latest interventions and advancements in epidemiology, and identify comprehensive strategies for implementing the WHO’s action items.” Professor TENG remarked.
Mr. ZHANG Hui, Counselor (DG level) from the Department of Ageing and Health, National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China, emphasized healthy ageing was the least costly and most effective means and ways to cope with population ageing. The Chinese government had been positively responding to the United Nations Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021-2030). Mr. ZHANG highlighted the significance of collaboration and knowledge exchange between Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macao in various aspects such as scientific research, technologies, projects, standards, norms, talents, services, and industries related to healthy ageing and elderly care. Mr. ZHANG Hui expressed, “The National Health Commission will continue to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with Hong Kong and Macao in the field of healthy aging, learn from each other and complement each other’s advantages.”
Professor Chung-mau LO, Secretary of Health, Health Bureau of the HKSAR Government, emphasized that the government acknowledges the significant challenges posed by the rapidly ageing population. The government is committed to implementing a comprehensive structural reform that will transition the healthcare system from a treatment-oriented approach to a prevention-focused approach, and shift the service delivery from hospital-based to community-based settings. Professor LO stated, “Our ultimate goal is to enhance the overall health of the population, ensure accessible and integrated healthcare services, and establish a sustainable healthcare system.”
Dr. Ronald LAM, Director of Health from the Department of Health of the HKSAR Government, reiterated the unwavering commitment of the HKSAR Government to promote healthy ageing. Dr. LAM emphasized that a comprehensive policy on healthy ageing has been formulated based on the recommendations of the Elderly Commission. Various programmes aimed at promoting the well-being of older adults are being implemented by the Department of Health, including health education for all age groups, caregiver training, and supports the revitalization of primary healthcare services. “Meeting the challenges of Silver Tsunami would require not only cross-sectoral, but also international collaboration. Let’s join hands for the health and well-being of our senior citizens.” said Dr. LAM.
Dr. Hiromasa OKAYASU, Director of the Division of Healthy Environments and Populations at the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO), reaffirmed that the conference offered an exceptional platform for policymakers, stakeholders, practitioners, researchers, and academics to come together and address the pressing trends and challenges related to population ageing in the region. Dr. OKAYASU stated, “The Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s School of Nursing made significant efforts to facilitate a wide range of discussions, encompassing research and practical ideas, all with the aim of enhancing healthy ageing.”
Professor Angela Yee-man LEUNG, Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Community Health Services, School of Nursing at PolyU, shed light on the prevalent issue of intrinsic capacity decline among community-dwelling older adults in Hong Kong. “Efforts have been made to promote the adoption of the World Health Organization’s integrated care for older people (ICOPE) Framework in Hong Kong. This includes the provision of a comprehensive training package and experience-sharing symposium, with the aim of facilitating the effective implementation of the ICOPE approach. Notably, we are pleased to witness the successful trial run of the ICOPE model by Wong Tai Sin District Health Centre.” said Professor LEUNG.
Furthermore, a series of webinars titled ‘Embracing Ageing in the Western Pacific’ has been regularly organized since 2020. These webinars create a valuable platform for experts in the region to exchange knowledge and ideas regarding emerging trends, best practices, and innovative solutions that promote healthy ageing. Professor LEUNG added, “We are delighted to foster a collaborative environment that facilitates knowledge sharing and encourages advancements in the field of healthy ageing.”
The Healthy Ageing Conference 2023 represented a significant milestone in the pursuit of healthy ageing. By fostering collaboration, exchanging views and ideas, and sharing innovative approaches, the conference laid a solid foundation for implementing the Regional Action Plan on Healthy Ageing. Ultimately, the goal is to realize the visions outlined in the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021–2030) and create a healthier, more inclusive future for older individuals and their communities.
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About World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Community Health Services, School of Nursing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated PolyU’s School of Nursing as a WHO Collaborating Centre (WHO CC) for Community Health Services since December 2007. Through implementing the WHO’s mandate, the School has been playing a proactive role in strengthening evidence-based community health services and improving the health outcomes of local, regional and global populations.
In 2019, The WHO re-designated the School’s WHO CC for Community Health Services with the focus that aligns with one of the WHO current strategic priorities – Healthy Ageing. The Centre is committed to the objectives of identifying crucial indicators of ageing and health within the region, actively advocating for and implementing the World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines on Integrated Care for Older People (ICOPE), and establishing a platform for interdisciplinary collaborations between healthcare professionals and academia to initiate projects focused on promoting healthy ageing.
About the Healthy Ageing Conference 2023:
The Healthy Ageing Conference 2023 was an international event organised by the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Community Health Services, School of Nursing of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), and co-organised by the Department of Health of the Government of Hong Kong SAR, PolyU Research Institute of Smart Ageing, and PolyU Department of Rehabilitation Sciences. The conference aims to address the key trends and challenges associated with population ageing in the Western Pacific region, promote healthy ageing, and facilitate the implementation of actions in response to the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing.
The Healthy Ageing Conference 2023 featured a comprehensive program encompassing a wide range of topics including healthcare innovations, social engagement, policy development, and technological advancements. Participants engaged in thought-provoking discussions, interactive workshops, and networking opportunities, fostering collaborations and inspiring initiatives to address the multifaceted aspects of healthy ageing.
For more information about WHO’s work on the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021–2030), please visit the official website: https://www.who.int/initiatives/decade-of-healthy-ageing.