This week a picturesque little Istrian town Rovinj hosted the International Healthcare Conference, with around 500 attendees. Wellbe paid a visit to the conference which is always a good thing to do, especially when the event takes place in the vicinity.
Healthy living and ageing, traditional and new ways of treating chronic and acute diseases, best destinations for relaxations and rehabilitation and similar – these were main topics that were discussed among the participants.
We in Croatia are pleased to become more and more recognized as one of the attractive areas for good quality healthcare, which is strongly supported by a mild Mediterranean climate and specific micro climate elements, perfect for respiratory problems, rheumatic diseases, cardiovascular and similar ailments.
That is why Croatia can have a say when speaking about ways to support longer life expectancy and its present demands.
What is life expectancy?
Life expectancy is a statistical measure of the average time an organism is expected to live, based on the year of its birth, its current age and other demographic factors including sex. The most commonly used measure is of “life expectancy is at birth” (LEB). National LEB figures reported by national statistics agencies and international organizations are indeed estimates of LEB. In the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, LEB was 26 years; but by 2010, the world LEB was 67.2 years. But this still has wide differences in the detail, for example in recent years, in Swaziland LEB is about 49, and in Japan it is about 83.
In its February issue the Lancet published a recent life expectancy report. If you are interested in the whole report and findings for 35 countries in which the research was done, please look at http://thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)32381-9/fulltext
In this article we only wish to focus on the few main findings and discussions around them, as the projections of future mortality and life expectancy are needed to plan for health and social services and pensions.
There is more than a 50% probability that by 2030, national female life expectancy will break the 90 year barrier, a level that was deemed unattainable by many at the turn of the 21st century.
At the same time the probability of the life expectancy for men will be around 85 years.
There is a high probability that life expectancy will continue to increase in all industrialised countries
With the exception of obesity, effective strategies and policies exist to modify the important behavioural and health systems determinants of adult mortality. The cornerstone of these strategies is an equitable and effective health system that provides universal free access to high-quality primary and secondary care for prevention and treatment, and uses regulation and economic tools (e.g., taxes) for substantially reducing tobacco and harmful alcohol use. The said projected longevity gains, and the contributions of older age longevity to these gains, also have major implications for health and social services.
Health services challenges
There is a need for health services that provide long-term care for the increasing number of older people who are affected by multi-morbidity and limited mobility. The health-care needs go beyond simply increasing the number of facilities and personnel, itself a challenge in the current era of austerity, and should involve considerations about how and where care is delivered including more integrated care in the community setting or even at home. At the same time, healthy ageing through the life course can prevent or delay the chronic conditions that affect older people; assistive technologies that compensate for loss of sensory and motor abilities, and appropriate changes to the built environment and transportation services can support independent living and mobility. Furthermore, social security and pensions will face additional payouts with extended longevity, which will further stress them unless work and retirement practices change, for example through gradual transition to retirement or later retirement age. Although rising life expectancy necessitates policies that can support healthy ageing, reframing of education–work–retirement practices, and investment in health and social care, our projections show the continued success of extending longevity.
It follows from this that we should take care and be responsible for ourselves in order to reduce the burden on society generally and social welfare services in particular by paying special attention to maintaining the condition of our bodies at the optimum levels our circumstances will permit. We can do this by undertaking and maintaining “wellness” programmes for ourselves, proper rehabilitation programmes, where necessary after chronic or acute conditions become apparent, and, generally, an active healthy lifestyle at all times.