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In salute to older persons, Annan says policies, attitudes on ageing must evolve

In salute to older persons, Annan says policies, attitudes on ageing must evolve

As life expectancies continue to increase all around the world, policies and attitudes on ageing must evolve and be better integrated into development efforts, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today in a message marking the International Day of Older Persons, traditionally observed on 1 October.

"Humankind is ageing," Mr. Annan said, noting that since 1950 the average life expectancy at birth has increased to 66 from 46 and that by mid-century, the ratio of older people in society will double from 1 in 10 persons to 1 in 5. "Demographic ageing, long evident in developed countries, is now occurring at a swift pace in developing countries as well."

Such a global transformation affects individuals, households, communities, and virtually all areas of government and society, the Secretary-General said. He added that policy measures, and general attitudes on ageing, must evolve, too, as ageing issues needed to be better integrated into the larger context of development.

"Older people must be able to participate fully in the decisions affecting their lives," Mr. Annan said. "And all of us must recognize how trends such as globalization, urbanization and migration, as well as health crises such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic, affect the place of older persons in society."

The Second World Assembly on Ageing, slated for April 2002 in Madrid, offered an opportunity to raise international awareness of these goals, to promote greater intergenerational solidarity, and to build on the first World Assembly in Vienna 20 years ago, the Secretary-General said.

He urged all partners to support this process, and more broadly "to do everything in their power so that all men and women can age with security and dignity. The seeds of healthy ageing are planted early in life; that is a challenge we must take up without delay."