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24-11-2023 10:15

Opening Speech by the Minister of Health Dr Popi Kanari at the Conference on "Medical, Geriatric, Social, and Psychological Aspects of Ageing"

It is a great honor and pleasure for me to be here today, representing the Ministry of Health, at this seminar organised by the Cyprus Medical Association, the Pediatric Society of Cyprus, the Medical School of the University of Nicosia, and the Cyprus AHERA.

The theme of the conference, "Medical, Geriatric, Social, and Psychological Aspects of Ageing," reflects the significance we attribute to the advancement of the active aging model and to the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation, and security, to enhance quality of life during aging.

The Ministry of Health recognises aging as a developmental aspect of our lives throughout the human lifespan. Aging is associated with changes in biological, physiological, environmental, psychological, behavioral, and social processes in people’s life. Therefore, aging has an impact on millions of people and their families worldwide, deeply affecting the fabric of our communities and societies. As the United Nations states, “the aging of the population is an irreversible global trend, and the decline in fertility rates combined with increased life expectancy, presents significant challenges to healthcare systems worldwide in adapting to this demographic change. It is a global challenge to adapt healthcare systems to the new demographic data”. It is therefore our obligation to address this challenge with determination and collaboration.

Additionally, the demographic ageing of the population in developed countries is a serious issue today, with health, social, and economic implications. The increase in life expectancy, along with the growth of the elderly population, compels both Europe and Cyprus to intensify their efforts for more effective support to the elderly in order to stay healthy and active as long as possible.

Today's conference, which is held under the auspices of the Republic of Cyprus, is demonstrating our commitment to the health and well-being of all our citizens. I am particularly delighted that this conference provides us with the opportunity to exchange ideas and listen to presentations on important medical and social issues that concern citizens regarding aging.

One of the government's top priorities was the development and establishment of a National Strategy and Action Plan for the elderly. I am in the privileged position, as the Minister of Health, to announce that the National Strategy and Action Plan for the Elderly has been prepared by the technical committee of the Ministry of Health for the ageing population, in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders. The Strategy sets the preservation and improvement of the health of the elderly as its basis, with four strategic pillars: Prevention, Promotion of Healthy Aging, Age-Friendly Environment, Research, and Education. The Strategy identifies gaps and presents recommendations, in regards to these four pillars,

Currently, in the context of implementation of the National Strategy and Action Plan for the elderly, several actions are already being implemented.

A large campaign on the prevention of polypharmacy commonly in older adults takes place, aiming to inform the population and healthcare professionals of the negative consequences for patients and the health care system. Additionally, interactive workshops on healthy nutrition and fall prevention are planned for the beginning of the new year in all provinces, with the involvement of relevant organisations. Through these interactive workshops, participants will have the opportunity to learn about the management of various diseases through nutrition (such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, osteoarthritis) and, at the same time, will have the opportunity to prepare healthy meals in groups.

We want the changes that aging brings not to be addressed merely, but to ensure that despite these changes, all our citizens will enjoy a good quality of life until the end of their days. We want all elderly members of our society to lead their lives with dignity. This is the state's minimum reward for the years of contribution of the elderly.

Dear friends,

Getting older doesn’t mean that people stop their attempt to be healthy, sociable, productive, creative, useful, and capable.

Elderly individuals are a vital part of our communities. They contribute to families and society in many ways.  Many of them have the important role of caregivers for the next generation. They can engage in new activities, pursue further education, or start new careers. However, the extent of these opportunities and contributions heavily depends on one factor: good health. That is why promoting healthy lifestyle, preventing diseases, and ensuring healthcare support is of utmost importance throughout our lives.

Improvements in the healthcare sector and the provision of services are not just done and dusted. The government will continue its unflagging interest in upgrading the healthcare system for the benefit of the elderly and all the citizens of the Republic of Cyprus.

To conclude, I would like to highlight that active aging is an exceptionally important policy for the state. While we aim to focus on the new generation, we also must not neglect the needs of older citizens. Research has indicated that engaging in voluntary activities and aging actively can lead to improvements in the mental, psychological, and physical health of the elderly, with a nearly 40% increase in well-being.

I would like to express my gratitude to each and every one of you for your active participation in this significant conference, as well as your unwavering commitment to the well-being of both the people of Cyprus and beyond. I hold the belief that the interaction and knowledge sharing occurred here today will make a substantial contribution towards tackling issues related to aging.

May this conference be a source of inspiration and progress for all of us and a starting point for similar actions.