In order to draw the attention of civil society, international organizations, professionals, academic institutions, the media and the private sector to the need to join forces to improve the lives of older adults, as well as those of their families and communities, the Ministry of Health through the Social Welfare Institute, and the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) launched the “Healthy Aging” campaign.
Asunción, April 29, 2022 (PAHO/WHO) The launch of the initiative coincides with the “National Day of the Elderly” that is celebrated every April 29. “This is an opportunity to give special recognition to this population group, reaffirm their rights and promote a comprehensive approach to the elderly, engaging all sectors of society,” said María del Carmen Villar, General Director of the Institute of Social Welfare, during the conference a press conference.
He also explained some of the health promotion activities that the institution has been carrying out with the technical cooperation of PAHO/WHO in Paraguay, which in turn are planned within the framework of the “Decade of healthy aging 2021-2030” promoted by The OMS.
“We carry out virtual talks, face-to-face workshops and dissemination materials with key messages about older adults, with the intention of changing the way we think, feel and act towards age and aging. We seek to improve the general capacities for autonomy and well-being of the elderly in the communities, as well as training the human resources of the entire health services network, so that they can offer integrated care, centered on the person and that responds to the needs of our older adults”, added Lic. Villar.
He also explained that the Social Welfare Institute, dependent on the MSPyBS, carries out a program called Older Adults and Community Development, which has permanent residence homes. Two of them are in Asunción, one is in Luque and one in Concepción, and there are other homes run through agreements with other institutions. This and other services for older adults, especially for those in conditions of vulnerability, are components of the program, which also have the technical cooperation of PAHO/WHO in Paraguay.
For his part, the Vice Minister of Comprehensive Health Care, Dr. Víctor Hernán Martínez, asked the journalists present at the press conference to support this campaign to spread messages that revalue older adults, recognizing their right to a dignified life, with health and rights. “This task is not only for the Ministry of Health, but for the entire society,” he indicated.
The PAHO/WHO Representative in Paraguay, Dr. Marcelo Korc, explained that “healthy aging” implies that people can live without fear, that they have the freedom to live without deprivation, and that they can lead a dignified life as fundamental factors. “To do this we must focus on people, understanding their context and generating empathy with the elderly in their aging process.”
In Paraguay, official statistics indicate that people aged 65 and over are 10.2% of the total population, 48.3 men, and 51.8% women (approximately 700 thousand people). 61.7% of this population lives in urban areas and 38.7% in rural areas, according to the projection of the National Institute of Statistics (INE), for the year 2021.
Decade of Healthy Aging
The Decade of Healthy Aging 2020-2030 consists of ten years of concerted, catalytic and sustained collaboration. The elderly will be the central axis of the plan, which will join the efforts of broad sectors of society and governments. This is the second action plan of the WHO global strategy on aging and health, and is in line with the schedule of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The possibility of living longer is one of our most extraordinary collective achievements. It is a reflection of the progress made in the field of social and economic development, as well as in the field of health, especially our success in combating fatal childhood diseases, maternal mortality and, more recently, mortality at older ages. Longer life is an incredibly valuable resource. It provides the opportunity to rethink not only what old age is, but also how we might live our lives as a whole.
Good health adds life to years. The opportunities that open up with increased longevity largely depend on healthy ageing. When people live these extra years in good health and continue to participate in the lives of families and communities as an integral part of them, they contribute to the strengthening of societies; however, if these extra years are dominated by poor health, social isolation or health care dependency, the implications for older people and for society as a whole are much more negative.
Healthy aging consists of developing and maintaining at advanced ages the functional capacity that makes well-being possible.