WHO Must Fill Glaring COVID-19 Response Gap: Address Older People

WHO Must Fill Glaring COVID-19 Response Gap: Address Older People

Worldwide media reports that coronavirus is harming the most vulnerable populations, including seniors. Unfortunately, to date the World Health Organization (WHO) published incomplete plans to protect older adults.

In response, academics from around the globe, former WHO staff, Global Ageing Network members, and HelpAge, wrote an open letter to WHO urging them to prioritize the needs of older people in this pandemic.
The letter highlights gaps in the World Health Organization’s plan for older adults. Specific concerns that are not yet addressed include:

– Guidance for health workers, especially in primary care, about how to work with older people, including those who are frail and cognitively impaired.
– Guidance for older health workers (including those coming out of retirement)
– Guidance for older people and their families to manage infection risks, deal with symptoms and mitigate wider issues such as depression.

WHO’s missing guidance raises the question amid this crisis: What happens to older adults, especially the large percentage who do not live in long-term care facilities that may have infection control procedures in place?
HelpAge remarked that, “if WHO does not address that 98% of older people, we believe [WHO] will lose credibility as an organization with a special mandate to provide guidance to Member States.”

Read the letter here. Visit HelpAge’s latest COVID-19 news and updates here.