WHO ageing report ‘an opportunity to highlight adult immunisation’

Gary Finnegan

Gary Finnegan

October 2nd, 2015

Gary Finnegan

‘The Global Strategy and Action Plan on Ageing and Health, published on 30 September, sets out the WHO’s priorities for 2020. Campaigners see the landmark publication as an opportunity to put adult immunisation on the agenda.’

2020 Strategic Objectives:
1. Fostering healthy ageing in every country
2. Aligning health systems to the needs of the older populations
3. Developing long-term care systems
4. Creating age-friendly environments
5. Improving measuring, monitoring and understanding
Source: WHO Global Strategy and Action Plan on Ageing and Health

The first ever WHO report on healthy ageing is viewed as an important step forward by Dr Jane Barratt, Secretary General of the International Federation on Ageing (IFA), although she would have preferred a specific focus on vaccination.
“Each of the five strategic objectives can be used to open dialogue on adult vaccination,” she said. “There is no dedicated section on adult immunisation but the report is an opportunity to respond and highlight areas where we see gaps.”

Dr Barratt points to the commitments to age-friendly environments and aligning health systems to the needs of older people as having particular relevance to immunisation.

“Vaccine-preventable diseases fit within those and we will continue to make that point when we engage with decision-makers,” Barratt told Vaccines Today.

The section on health systems makes direct mention of immunisation, committing to ensure “the availability of the medical products, vaccines and technologies that are necessary to optimise their capacity”.

“I look to the positives,” says Dr Barratt. “I pitch for adult immunisation but we know that the focus is still on childhood vaccination. Civil society has a responsibility to come out and advocate on behalf of older people.”

That is why the IFA is been building relationships with other civil society organisations as well as national and international authorities to highlight the issue. They are planning a NGO Summit and a Vaccine Champion Summit in November – two events designed to bring together a diverse coalition of players with an interest in the issue.

Dr Jane Barrett will attend the European Public Health Conference in Milan on October 16 where she will speak at a roundtable session on ‘The Role of Adult Vaccination as part of Healthy Ageing’.

“This is a priority for the next five years and we intend to develop a world coalition of civil society organisations on adult vaccination. The aim is to build capacity on the ground, helping to build key messages so that they can advocate to governments,” she said.