Advancing Technological Innovation for Ageing Populations in Asia

WHO /Chris de Bode

On this International Day of Older Persons (1 October), the WHO Kobe Center recognizes the contributions of older persons to our societies and reaffirms the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's call on countries and people to commit to remove barriers to older persons’ full participation in society while protecting their rights and dignity. With rapidly ageing populations in Japan and across the world, countries and communities are working to meet the needs and concerns of the world’s increasing number of older persons.

By 2050, the number of older persons will be twice the number of children in developed countries, and the number of older persons in developing countries is expected to double. This trend will have profound effects on countries and individuals. There is broad recognition that population ageing presents both a significant opportunity and a challenge.

As the UN Secretary-General stated in his message, the opportunity is to benefit from the many contributions older persons make to society. The challenge is to act on this understanding now through the adoption of policies that promote social inclusion and intergenerational solidarity. To tackle this challenge, innovative approaches and technologies are needed to promote greater quality of life, to reduce poor health, and to increase independence and productivity.

WKC is working to encourage greater technological and social innovation to assist ageing populations. In February 2013, WKC convened a unique Consultation with representatives from government, academia, industry and civil society on “Advancing Technological Innovation for Older Persons in Asia”. The conclusion of this meeting (highlighted in the report) identified the need for integrated approaches across government, industry, academia and civil society to encourage development of frugal innovations for medical and assistive devices, and to assure that they are available and affordable for growing ageing populations in an equitable manner.