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WMA seeks end to Healthcare discrimination against elderly

The World Medical Association has urged governments and medical professionals around the world to unite and eliminate all forms of healthcare discrimination against the elderly.

The WMA in a new policy document, says that elderly individuals experience all kinds of discrimination in healthcare. 

In a statement obtained by LN247, the association says the elderly may be perceived as a burden on healthcare systems. 

“As a result, rationing of certain costly and time-consuming diagnostic or therapeutic procedures takes place and clinical trials often exclude patients of a certain age,” it added.

The WMA noted that health discrimination experienced by elderly individuals might harm their physical, mental and social well-being and contributes to deterioration in their quality of life, loss of autonomy, confidence, safety, and active lifestyle, which could, in turn, decrease their levels of health.

The association stated that an increase in longevity must be accompanied by the highest quality-of-care standards, and should promote health, reduce risk factors, and provide accessible, sustainable, and quality health and social services. 

The emphasis, it noted, should be on patient-focused medicine that heals, cares for, alleviates, and comforts.

The association reiterated that dealing with discrimination against the elderly requires the involvement of professionals, institutions, healthcare systems, and authorities.

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It urged physicians to strive to improve the health, well-being, and quality of life of all patients without any form of discrimination toward the elderly.

The body also urged governments, medical associations, and physicians as priority actions, to defend the human rights and health of all individuals, including the elderly, as well as to ensure that their dignity is respected.

It further enjoined governments to develop appropriate and non-discriminatory healthcare policies for the elderly based on the efficient use of available healthcare resources. 

The WMA also recommended that governments should establish measures to eradicate discrimination against elderly individuals in healthcare and also provide sufficient resources which ensure adequate healthcare for elderly individuals.

WMA President, Dr. Osahon Enabulele in the statement, said, “The ageing of the population due to increased life expectancy is one of the main challenges of many health systems, putting a strain on these systems. 

“Older people are often seen as recipients of help, care and financial support. But this is inaccurate because they make significant contributions to the well-being of their environment, which has a high social value.

“So our new policy underlines what we promise in the Physicians Pledge: ‘I will not permit considerations of age…to intervene between my duty and my patient’”.

According to the WMA president, biological age should never be used as a basis for discrimination. 

He noted, “We want to see governments working to eradicate discrimination against elderly individuals in healthcare and we are calling on the medical profession to eliminate all forms of discrimination due to health and age.”

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