Capitalizing on this year’s gathering in Japan of health ministers and government officials for the G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting, JCIE worked with the Government of Japan and ERIA to co-organize the 2019 AHWIN Forum as part of its program on Healthy and Active Aging in Asia.
The forum examined the topic of “Achieving Healthy Aging in Asia: Envisioning Better Care for Older Adults.” The presentations and discussions at the Forum touched on a number of important elements in the approach to aging populations, and while there was a recognition that the understanding of “long-term care” (including the Japanese concept of kaigo) and “health” varies from country to country, there were also many areas of commonality and agreement.
Some of the many take-aways:
- health and welfare systems must prepare now for rapid population aging as many countries in Asia will face a steep rise in the number of older persons in the coming decades, ‘becoming old before they become rich’
- while we all want to live longer, the stress should be on increasing healthy life expectancy rather than just life expectancy
- the early promotion of a healthy diet and behaviors is key to increasing healthy life expectancy and delay or prevent the onset of dementia
- holistic approaches are needed that address the psychological, social, and spiritual elements of aging, rather than just the physical elements
- the supply of long-term care workers and systems is a major concern in Japan and other countries around the region although for different reasons—Japan is working to accept and train more foreign care givers, and some of the other countries in Asia have yet to evolve the profession of care giving and are working to develop a more comprehensive strategy; meanwhile, all countries face the shared task of improving compensation and the working environment for care givers
- governments, societies, and even individuals continue to view aging in a negative light and consider older persons as a burden, so there is a need for concerted, multisectoral efforts to address ageism and promote positive views of aging
This side event, which drew more than 140 experts from a broad range of sectors, served as an important milestone for the Asia Health and Wellbeing Initiative (AHWIN), marking three years since the initiative was launched by the government of Japan to promote bilateral and regional cooperation, and building mutually beneficial relationships.
Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan
Office of Healthcare Policy, Cabinet Secretariat of Japan
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan
Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA)
Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE)