Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

World Health Day Will Focus on Ageing

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

World Health Day Will Focus on Ageing

Article excerpt

World Health Day is celebrated every year on 7 April. The date commemorates the day on which WHO was founded in 1948. The theme of this year's World Health Day is ageing, acknowledging the fact that the number of older people is growing rapidly worldwide.

The world's population is set to reach 6000 million later this year. The United Nations Population Fund has already designated 12 October 1999 as "the Day of 6 Billion".

Half a century ago, most people in the world died before the age of 50 but most people today live well beyond that age. There are already more than 580 million people over the age of 60, and the number is projected to rise to 1000 million by 2020 -- a 75% increase compared to 50% for the population as a whole. By 2025, WHO says, two-thirds of the world's older people will be in developing countries and most of them will be women.

Elderly people are also apparently growing older. The fastest-growing part of the population in most countries, according to WHO, is the "oldest old" -- those aged more than 80 years. In the next 30 years the over-80s are expected to increase until they account for as much as one-third of the population over 65 in some countries.

As older people are living longer, fertility rates around the world are falling. This trend by which more people live to reach older age while fewer children are born is being referred to as "population ageing". …

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