ISLAMABAD: Like other parts of the globe, World Health Day was also observed in Pakistan on Saturday to mark the anniversary of the founding of World Health Organization (WHO).
Each year on its anniversary, the organization selects a key global health issue and organizes international, regional and local events on the day and throughout the year to highlight the selected area.
On this occasion, the WHO has called for an urgent action to ensure that at a time when the world's population is ageing rapidly, people should reach old age in the best possible health.
World Health Day 2012 focuses on how good health can add life to years, enabling older men and women to not only live longer, but also to extend their active involvement in all levels of society.
The WHO highlights the need for countries to take steps to prevent non communicable diseases, and to ensure that systems and services are in place to provide treatment and care when it is required.
Many of these services are highly cost-effective like high blood pressure which is a key risk factor for both heart disease and stroke can be effectively treated for just a few rupees a year.
Today, less than 15% of older people in low- and middle-income countries in need are receiving treatment for high blood pressure.
The WHO has outlined four key actions that governments and societies can take now to strengthen healthy and active ageing including promote good health and healthy behaviours at all ages to prevent or delay the development of chronic diseases.
Besides, minimizing the consequences of chronic disease through early detection and quality care, creating physical and social environments that foster the health and participation of older people and changing social attitudes to build a society in which older people are respected and valued.
Poor health is not the only concern people have as they grow older. Stigmatizing attitudes and common stereotypes often prevent older people from participating fully in society.
Older people make important contributions as family members, volunteers and as active participants in the workforce and are a significant social and economic resource.
The WHO will work to identify strategies that can enhance existing efforts to strengthen health systems to make services more effective and more accessible for older people, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
Innovation and technology can help older people in many ways to better monitor health status and detect early signs of disease, connect older people to health care, underpin new approaches, ensure better data collection and monitoring, create training opportunities for health workers and caregivers, develop new versions of diagnostic, monitoring and assistive devices and to assist older people with functional loss to remain independent.
The main health challenges for older people everywhere are non communicable diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
People in low- and middle-income countries currently face upto four times the risk of death and disability from noncommunicable diseases than people in high-income countries.
According to health experts, the risk of developing all noncommunicable diseases can be significantly reduced by adopting healthy behaviours, such as being physically active, eating a healthy diet, avoiding the harmful use of alcohol and not smoking or using tobacco products.
They said the earlier people adopt these behaviours, the better their chance of enjoying a healthy old age. Healthy lifestyles from the very beginning of life is key to a healthy and active old age, they added. (APP)