The UN chief said that beyond health risks, “the pandemic puts older people at increased risk of poverty”, with a particularly devastating impact on older people in developing countries.
António Guterres published a 16-page political briefing on the impact of COVID-19 on the elderly with several key messages, especially that “no one, young or old, can be spent” and “the elderly have the same rights to life and health than everyone else. “
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The Secretary General, who celebrated his 71st birthday on Thursday, said: “As an elderly person myself, responsible for an even older mother, I am deeply concerned about the pandemic on a personal level and its effects on our lives. communities and our societies. . ”
He called for better social support and “smarter efforts” to use digital technology to reach the elderly who may face great suffering due to isolation and movement restrictions.
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Guterres said all social, economic and humanitarian responses to the pandemic must take into account the needs of the elderly, noting that the majority are women who are more likely to enter their final years in poverty without access to Health care.
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He also said that the elderly should not be treated as “invisible or helpless”, stressing that many work and participate fully in family life, teach, learn and care for others.
“To cross this pandemic together, we need a surge of global and national solidarity and the contributions of all members of society, including the elderly,” said Guterres in a video message accompanying the political report which also stressed the importance of building “environmentally friendly societies. ”
The report warns that not only do people over 80 die at a rate five times higher than the new coronavirus, but “about 66% of people aged 70 and over have at least one underlying condition, which exposes them to an increased risk of serious impact from COVID-19[FEMALE»[FEMININE »
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According to the report, more than 95% of deaths from COVID-19 in Europe are people aged 60 and over. In the United States, 80% of deaths occur in adults 65 and older, according to the report, and in China, about 80% of deaths occurred in adults aged 60 or older.
The report warned that “the death rate for the elderly could climb even higher” as COVID-19 spreads to developing countries, “likely overwhelming health and social protection systems.
In the midst of the pandemic, according to the UN report, overcrowded hospitals and medical facilities are faced with difficult decisions regarding the use of scarce resources.
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Human rights experts have noted with concern that decisions about the use of these resources, including ventilators, “have in some cases been made on the basis of age or generalized assumptions about impact of a particular diagnosis, such as dementia, on overall health, life expectancy or chances of survival, “according to the report.
“Less visible but no less worrisome,” he said, “are the broader effects: health care denied for conditions unrelated to COVID-19; neglect and abuse in health care institutions and establishments; increased poverty and unemployment; the dramatic impact on well-being and mental health; and the trauma of stigma and discrimination. “
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© 2020 The Canadian Press