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WHO Addresses Aging and Technology

2/28/14

The impact of a rapidly expanding aging population, increase in chronic disease, and contraction of the health care work force and family caregivers, is now being felt globally. The magnitude of these challenges on developing and developed countries alike was highlighted by the convening of the first WHO Global Forum on Innovation for Ageing Populations in Kobe, Japan in December 2013. Dr. David Lindeman, from the Center for Technology and Aging, helped facilitate this first international convening targeted at identifying low-cost, scalable social, health, and economic solutions to improve the health and well-being of the world's aging population.

Ensuring that rapidly ageing populations remain healthy, productive and independent for as long as possible, requires innovations that meet the greatest needs, and which are safe, effective, affordable, accessible and available, and acceptable to the user.

During the Forum, a wide variety of stakeholders addressed the current needs for technological and social innovation to support healthy ageing, and reviewed specific examples related to assistive technologies to promote wellness, independence and mobility, including care at home; medical technologies targeted to prevent functional and cognitive decline; and ageing-in-place innovations for community based care and home based care systems.

Participants from 21 countries attended the Global Forum, including representatives from governments (China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand), private healthcare sectors, non-profit organizations, research labs and academic institutions, as well as international organizations such as the OECD and the World Bank.

The conclusions of the meeting will allow WHO and the WHO Kobe Centre to articulate a targeted research agenda and policy guidance to rapidly identify and implement global solutions for improving the well-being and quality of life of older adults through social and technological innovation.

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