Ageing and life-course

The Global strategy and action plan on ageing and health

Why do we need a Global strategy and action plan on ageing and health?

An older man in the sea, looking to camera.
Frédéric Dupoux/HelpAge International 2010

Populations around the world are rapidly ageing, with some of the fastest change occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Promoting healthy ageing, and building systems to meet the needs of older adults, will be sound investments in a future where older people have the freedom to be and do what they value.

How has the Strategy been developed?

In 2014, the World Health Assembly asked the Director-General to develop a comprehensive Global strategy and action plan on ageing and health. After consideration by the Executive Board in January 2016 and by the Sixty-ninth World Health Assembly “Multisectoral action for a life course approach to healthy ageing: global strategy and plan of action on ageing and health” (Document A69/17) and a related resolution (WHA69.3) were adopted in May 2016.

The Strategy

The Strategy is a significant step forward in establishing a framework for Member States, the WHO Secretariat and partners to contribute to achieving the vision that all people can live long and healthy lives.

The Strategy (2016 – 2020) has two goals:

  • five years of evidence-based action to maximize functional ability that reaches every person; and
  • by 2020, establish evidence and partnerships necessary to support a Decade of Healthy Ageing from 2020 to 2030.

Specifically the Strategy focuses on five strategic objectives:

  • commitment to action on Healthy Ageing in every country;
  • developing age-friendly environments;
  • aligning health systems to the needs of older populations;
  • developing sustainable and equitable systems for providing long-term care (home, communities, institutions); and
  • improving measurement, monitoring and research on Healthy Ageing.

What was the process of consultation?

The strategy focuses on what needs to be done globally going beyond what the WHO Secretariat can do alone. As such an extensive consultation process with Member States and other stakeholders involving face-to-face meetings and an online survey took place between August 2015 and November 2015.

A zero draft, reviewed through an on-line survey (28 August – 30 October 2015), yielded more than 500 contributions - comments, edits and statements - from individuals and institutions in 55 countries.

Based on inputs received a first draft of the Global strategy and action plan on ageing and health was developed and formed the basis for four regional meetings and a global consultation in Geneva. These meeting, organized in collaboration with all WHO regional offices, brought together almost 200 participants including 75 delegations from Member States, 35 non-governmental organizations, 30 experts from a diverse range of research institutions, as well as representatives from other International and United Nations agencies and WHO technical departments.

The consultation process gathered valuable inputs that informed the revisions of the Global strategy and action plan on ageing and health, including suggested goals, strategic objectives, action points, commitments from stakeholders, and indicators to measure progress towards Healthy Ageing that reaches every person.

The revised version of the Global strategy and action plan on ageing and health was discussed by the Executive Board on 27 January 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland. Representatives from 30 Member States and civil society organizations contributed to the discussion.

The World Health Assembly discussed on May 26, the draft Global strategy and plan of action on ageing and health and document A69/A/CONF./8, containing the draft resolution entitled “The global strategy and action plan on ageing and health 2016-2020: towards a world in which everyone can live a long and healthy life”. After a supportive discussion with interventions of 41 Member States, 10 NGOs, and 2 observers, the draft strategy and resolution were considered, noted and adopted.

What is Healthy Ageing?

Healthy Ageing is defined by the World report on ageing and health as the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables well-being in older age.