WHO washes its hands of older people

Peter Lloyd-Sherlock, Martin McKee, Shah Ebrahim

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Older people (≥60 years) constitute more than 12% of the world's population, which will rise to 16·5% by 2030.1 This age group will represent 10% of the population in less developed regions by 2030. Although older people account for a greater proportion of the global burden of disease and health-care needs than younger people, their positive societal contribution should not be overlooked. This age group often provide unpaid care for children or grandchildren, or other adults with disabilities. Improved health of older people is an essential goal to reduce health-care costs and maintain the societal support older people provide.

Although WHO has begun to address this key global challenge over the past decade, the proposed 13th General Programme of Work2 makes no reference to older people or conditions associated with later life, such as dementia, which is unacceptable. If the proposed programme is approved, it will considerably diminish WHO's global authority and will brand itself as a champion of age discrimination. We therefore urge that WHO rectify this oversight and revise the proposed programme to include substantial plans relating to the health of older people and challenges of an ageing population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-26
Number of pages2
JournalThe Lancet
Issue number10115
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2018


  • Aged
  • Ageism
  • Global Health
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • World Health Organization
  • Letter

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