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International Day of Older Persons, 1st October 2011

Old age… is it bad for your rights?

GENEVA (1st October 2011) – “In a rapidly ageing word, many older persons would agree that old age is bad for your rights,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Anand Grover, marking the International Day of Older Persons. “In fact, the rights of older persons are often considered to be a marginal area in human rights.”

“As you reach old age, you are more likely to be ignored, patronized, denied access to social security or healthcare, abused, forcefully medicated without your consent or denied medical treatment at all due to your age,” the UN expert stressed. “The list is just too long.”

“We must recognize older persons have rights like anyone else and we must empower them to exercise their rights, in particular the right to health,” Mr. Grover said. “Despite modern society’s strides in human longevity, millions of older persons suffer daily from the age-old problems of prejudice, stigmatization, discrimination and lack of access to appropriate health care.”

In his recent study* on the realization of the right to health of older persons, the Special Rapporteur noted that a right-to-health approach is essential for “the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of health-related policies and programmes to mitigate consequences of an ageing society and ensure the enjoyment of this human right by older persons.”

“More resources are certainly needed for geriatric healthcare, but there should also be a greater focus on treatment for long-term and chronic pain and more respect for the right of older persons to informed consent,” the UN expert said. “More should be done to prevent the abuse that the elderly too often suffer, particularly if ill.”

“States must have policies and adopt measures to ensure old age is no longer bad for your human rights, including the right to health,” urged Mr. Grover. “Only then will millions of older persons have a good reason to celebrate their very special international day.”

The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to help States, and others, promote and protect the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. Anand Grover is co-founder and Director of the Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS in India.

(*) Check the study on the realization of the right to health of older person: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/18session/A-HRC-18-37_en.pdf

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur: http://www.ohchr.org/english/issues/health/right/index.htm

Human Rights Council’s panel discussion on the realization of the right to health of older persons (16 September 2011): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11387&LangID=E

The International Day of Older Persons is observed on 1s October every year since 1991: http://www.un.org/en/events/olderpersonsday/

For further information and media requests, please contact Jamshid Gaziyev, (+ 41 22 917 9383 / jgaziyev@ohchr.org) or write to srhealth@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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