Last October, the World Medical Association (WMA) adopted a declaration on discrimination against older people in healthcare settings. The declaration calls for a holistic approach in care that promotes the human rights, health and dignity of all individuals, including older people.
The association notes that older people face all kinds of discrimination, in particular in the health care sector. They are often perceived as a burden on health systems and their financial balance. As a result, time-consuming and costly diagnostic and therapeutic procedures for them are often rationed. And clinical trials usually exclude patients of a certain age.
In this declaraiton, the WMA is calling on the medical profession and governments around the world to eliminate all forms of discrimination against older people. It adds that biological age should never be used as a basis for discrimination, although it can be a relevant factor in medical decision-making. Reference to age can therefore be professionally sound.
“The ageing of the population through increased life expectancy is one of the major challenges for many health systems because it puts them under strain. Older people are often seen as needing to be helped, cared for and financially supported. But this misconception is wrong, because in reality their contribution to the well-being of their environment is considerable and has a high social value.”
The WMA President, Dr Osahon Enabulele
The declaration provides 15 recommendations to governments, medical associations and physicians.