It takes knowledge to make the world a better place to grow old


In support of the Decade of Healthy Aging, the World Health Organization has launched a multilingual, publicly accessible knowledge exchange platform that will enable people to find, share and generate knowledge about healthy aging. The WHO Director-General introduces the platform and explains how it can be used to make the world a better place to age.

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Over the next ten years, the number of people aged 60 and over in the world is expected to increase by 38%, from 1 billion to 1.4 billion, surpassing the number of young people. This increase will be largest and fastest in low- and lower-middle-income countries. Despite the predictability of population aging and its accelerating pace, the world is not prepared. The devastating impact of COVID-19 on older populations has highlighted the many gaps in our systems and services, such as the availability and quality of health and social care. It has also influenced our perception of aging itself, through the all too common, but false, account that all older people are frail and vulnerable.

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The United Nations General Assembly, recognizing the need for collective and concerted multisectoral action, has declared 2021-2030 the Decade of Healthy Aging. The World Health Organization has been called upon to lead a global collaboration to foster longer, healthier lives, bringing together governments, civil society, the private sector, the media and UN agencies.

The Decade Plan prioritizes four areas of action to improve the lives of older people, their families and their communities. These interrelated areas of action include changing the way we think, feel and act in the face of age and aging; fostering the capacities of older people in their communities; to provide integrated care and primary health services that meet the needs of older people; and access to long-term care for older people who need it. These actions are supported by four catalysts: the voice and engagement of seniors, families and communities; foster leadership and capacity building; connect stakeholders; and improving data, research and innovation.

The promise and potential of the Decade of Healthy Aging can only be realized if we work together across countries, sectors and disciplines. WHO, in collaboration with stakeholders from more than 80 countries, has developed an innovative and multilingual knowledge exchange platform that will enable people to find, share and produce knowledge about healthy aging. . The design of the Decade Platform ( recognizes that there are many types and sources of knowledge, including those derived from personal experience. Some knowledge is explicit while others are tacit, such as that of long-term care providers who have identified ways to reduce anxiety in older adults without necessarily being able to explain how they did it. To meet different knowledge needs, the platform contains user guides, reports, databases and teaching and research materials, as well as informal and face-to-face learning opportunities.

The Decade platform is designed to be used by policy makers, practitioners and all other stakeholders to find, share and generate the knowledge necessary for their work to promote healthy aging. Submissions to the platform are open to the public, and all users can access and make available knowledge in five key areas corresponding to the catalysts of the Decade. Every piece of knowledge on the platform is reviewed by a group of volunteer experts. For example, users can access a data portal that collects data on global indicators to monitor the health and well-being of older people, such as the percentage of people aged 60 and over, life expectancy. healthy life to 60 years of age, the leading causes of death. among older people, percentage of older people receiving long-term care and percentage of older people living in an age-friendly environment.

To maximize the use of knowledge, the platform also offers stakeholders training and opportunities to share successful initiatives and good practices. The Healthy Aging for Impact in the 21st Century: Global Online Leadership Training program has already trained more than 800 government officials, focal points for aging in relevant ministries, United Nations staff in offices. countries and those working in civil society organizations in the field. of aging.

There is also a need for new knowledge, both theoretical and practical. The Decade platform provides an opportunity to make the gaps visible and provide the tools and resources necessary to fill them. This includes documenting and disseminating new knowledge gained not only through field reports, but also by amplifying the voices, stories and perspectives of older people, their families and their communities to find out what matters most. .

The ultimate decisions on how to promote healthy aging lie with national governments and civil society. Being able to access the wealth of diverse knowledge in different languages ​​and relevant to different disciplines and contexts can facilitate this process. Knowledge needs will evolve and the platform will evolve accordingly. The Decade Platform aims to bring together diverse knowledge to improve the lives of older people, their families and communities, now and in the future.

Transforming our world to improve the quality of life of aging populations is a moral, social and economic imperative for present and future generations. The Sustainable Development Goals provide the vision, the United Nations Decade on Healthy Aging the framework and the Decade Platform the vehicle to ensure that none of us are left behind as we age.

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corresponding author

Correspondence to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

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The author declares no competing interests.

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Ghebreyesus, TA It takes knowledge to turn the world into a better place to grow old.
Aging Nat (2021).

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