“Never too late to prevent ill health”
May 21, 2019 | NEWS
- Among those aged 50 and over in high and high-middle sociodemographic index countries, at least 16% of years lived with disability are attributable to largely preventable diseases
- Following continuous demographic change over the last decades, 26,958,009 years will be lived with disability due to largely preventable diseases
- ILC-UK launches international programme of work to encourage prevention across the life course alongside World Health Assembly today
There is already a consensus that preventing disease and limiting long-term illness and disability are both good for our health and will play an important role in supporting the economic sustainability of health systems. However, past decades have seen a continued focus of preventative interventions in early life, with too little attention focused on preventing ill health in later life.
To this end, the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC-UK) is launching an international programme of work exploring “Prevention in an Ageing World”, alongside the 72nd World Health Assembly today.
Initial research findings reveal that among those aged 50 and over in high and high-middle sociodemographic index countries, at least 16% of the total number of years lived with disability for all diseases are attributable to largely preventable communicable and non-communicable diseases.
As demographic trends continue, the ILC-UK’s analysis suggests that 26,958,009 years will be lived with disability, resulting in tremendous losses to wellbeing and productivity. Approximately one-tenth of the total number of years lived with disability can be attributed to cardiovascular disease alone, of which 86% of those affected are aged 50 or over.
Across the OECD, childhood-vaccination rates are, on average, above 90% whereas flu vaccination rates among people aged 65 and over are, on average, just above 40%. However, of an estimated 44,000 annual deaths from the flu in Europe, 77% occur in those aged 65 and over.
As such, there is a clear need for a shift in health systems that supports preventative action across the life course. ILC-UK argues that it is never too late to take preventative action and that adults in mid and later life must be included in health promotion programmes.
Such interventions include targeted screening programmes to identify a disease early, preventative medications, supporting people to adopt healthier lifestyles, vaccinations against communicable diseases, supporting people to manage long-term conditions in ways that improve their wellbeing and help them to enjoy more active, longer lives.
Over the coming year, ILC-UK will engage in an international programme of work to influence and shape the discourse on prevention and promote preventative action across the life course through research and stakeholder engagement across the globe.
Baroness Greengross, Chief Executive, ILC-UK, says:
“While prevention spending does not tell the whole story, governments need to ensure that their stated commitments to promote health and wellbeing are backed with action.”
“The longer-term gains from prevention are often not seen for years, even decades, after investments are made. The true impact of our current failure to invest in prevention across the life course could well be decades of additional health and economic burdens in the years to come.” Charity Number: 1080496.
Dr Naoko Yamamoto, Assistant-Director General for Healthier Populations, World Health Organisation, said:
“Health is crucial to how we experience older age. Most of the health problems that confront older people are associated with long term conditions and declines in physical and mental capacity. Many can be prevented or delayed by engaging in healthy behaviours and providing person-centred and integrated care”
“And even for people with significant limitations in capacity, supportive environments can ensure that they live lives of dignity and continued personal growth.”
Ann Keeling, Chair, Age International, said:
“Healthy ageing is a great ‘problem’ to have and with attention to prevention, treatment and health inequities throughout the life course we can increase the number of people who enjoy a healthy older age.”
More information on the “Prevention in an ageing world” programme can be found here.
For more information on the launch reception and how to register, please click here.
For press queries, please contact Lily Parsey on +44 7400 294 694 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ILC is the UK’s specialist think tank on the impact of longevity on society, and what happens next.
We believe society has to adapt now so we can all enjoy the benefits of longevity.
We want a society that works for everyone, regardless of their age.
We know the numbers. We know the challenges. What happens next will define us for generations.