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United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has urged greater efforts to support the needs of older people, particularly in developing countries.

“People around the world are living longer, healthier lives, thanks to advances in health and well-being,” he said in a video message to the opening on Sunday of the 20th World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

He added that while this means more experienced workers and more custodians of culture and heritage, it also creates challenges, “putting pressure on institutions such as healthcare and pension systems”.

By 2050, 80 per cent of the world’s older people will live in developing countries and the population over 60 years old will be larger than the population under 15, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

In a 2012 report, the U.N. agency interviewed 1,300 older men and women from 36 countries who highlighted challenges related to continued discrimination, abuse and violence, underscoring the need for governments, civil society and the general public to work together to end these destructive practices and invest in older people.

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In his message, Ban called for full implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. The Plan focuses on three priority areas: older persons and development; advancing health and well-being into old age; and ensuring enabling and supportive environments.

The World Congress is held every four years by the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG) and the International Congress Organizing Committee. It is the world’s largest international congress, according to its website.

(U.N. News)