WHO: prioritize the needs of older people in response to Covid-19

In an open letter published in the British Medical Journal on 23 March 2020, an international coalition of academic institutions and civil society organizations urges the World Health Organization (WHO) and its member states to prioritize the needs of older people in its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, given that this age group accounts for the large majority of severe cases and of casualties. The authors demand expert guidance for health workers about how to work with frail older people, for older health workers, and for older people themselves and their families.

The 142 signatories include Michael Hodin, CEO of the Global Coalition on Aging, Ken Bluestone, Head of Policy and Influencing at Age International, Dr Glenda Gray, President and CEO South African Medical Research Council, Professor Jean-Pierre Michel, European Interdisciplinary Council on Aging, Dr Cesar Victora, International Center for Equity in Health, and representatives of the International Longevity Centre (ILC) Global Alliance from the USA, UK, South Africa, Brazil, Romania, Nigeria, Singapore, Australia, India, Japan, and Argentina. Professor Tineke Abma signed the open letter on behalf of Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing and ILC The Netherlands.

We sincerely hope this collective action will lead to adjustments in the WHO policy and guidelines, and encourage awareness and a broader discussion on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable groups in our society.

Please read the open letter in BMJ here.