Emma Stokes leads an exercise session for delegates at the WHO meeting

A vision for a long and healthy life

By Emma Stokes, WCPT President

At the moment it feels like I am surrounded by strategic plans, actions plans and consultation. As you may have seen in WCPT News, WCPT’s Look Forward Together consultation continues to engage our member organisations, subgroups, networks and individual physical therapists.
 

I was reminded of the power of such consultation when an e-mail arrived into my inbox from John Beard, Director of the Department of Ageing and Life Course at the World Health Organization, thanking WCPT for its contributions and support during the WHO’s consultation meeting on its ageing and health strategy, held in Geneva in October. 

WHO launched its World Report on Ageing and Health in September 2015, just prior to its global consultation, and it provides the conceptual framework for the strategy. I represented WCPT at the consultation meeting along with Stephen Lungaro-Mifsud. I am very grateful to Jennifer Bottomley and Hans Hobbelen of IPTOP, WCPT’s subgroup for physical therapists working with older people, who led the development of WCPT’s response to the consultation, engaging their member groups and associate members around the world.
 
The new global strategy will be presented to the WHO Executive Board later this month and will be considered at the 69th World Health Assembly in May 2016. 
 
Given the demographics of ageing around the world, WHO accepts that “a comprehensive response to foster healthy ageing is urgently needed”. Healthy ageing is defined in the world report as “the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables well-being in older age”. 
 
The vision is a world in which everyone can live a long and healthy life. WHO charts five years of evidence-based action between 2016 and 2020 to maximise every person’s functional ability. But it also recognises that member states and other stakeholders will need to bridge gaps in evidence and infrastructure over the next five years so that they are positioned to undertake a decade of evidence-informed, concerted action during the the Decade of Health Ageing, 2020-2030.
 
The actions proposed are not just for WHO member states. Organisations like WCPT and its member organisations can make a positive contribution. The actions are listed in the new draft of the Global Strategy and Action Plan for Healthy Ageing, revised following the WHO consultation.  WCPT’s submission to the consultation supported the Confederation’s role in actions to be taken by WHO’s stakeholders. 
 
This is a key opportunity for member organisations and individual PTs around the world. WCPT can act as a repository of our activities. It can facilitate networking and share success and best practices. All of this will enhance our role as key contributors to healthy ageing.
 
Tracking what we do to contribute will be a way of measuring our own impact on the implementation of this action plan and our own contribution to the Decade of Healthy Ageing.
 
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