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WHO asks South-East Asian countries to prioritize senior citizens during covid vaccine drive

On the International Day of Older Persons, “The older population continues to be highly vulnerable in the ongoing pandemic. Protecting them against the deadly COVID-19 virus should be our priority,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region.

SNS | New Delhi |

The World Health Organisation on Friday called for greater efforts in the South-East Asia Region to expand COVID-19 vaccination coverage among the older population, at the highest risk of severe Covid-19 disease and death from the Coronavirus.

On the International Day of Older Persons, “The older population continues to be highly vulnerable in the ongoing pandemic. Protecting them against the deadly COVID-19 virus should be our priority,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region.

By vaccinating the elderly population as part of high-risk groups, countries can effectively reduce deaths and hospitalization, she said.

All countries in the Region have prioritized the elderly populations for COVID-19 vaccination, right from the time they launched the vaccination drive.

While a few countries are progressing towards a reasonably good coverage of their elderly population, concerted and focused efforts to improve coverage of the elderly will be required in all countries of the Region to achieve high coverage to protect these vulnerable populations.

As countries further accelerate COVID-19 vaccination, they must closely look into all issues impacting access to these lifesaving vaccines for this highest-risk population and address them, the Regional Director said.

Protecting the most at-risk population would not only help in reducing the disease burden but also limit the impact on the health systems.

On the UN International Day of Older Persons, WHO is also calling on countries and partners to intensify action to foster healthy ageing.

All older people must be empowered to fulfil their potential and live with dignity and equality in a healthy environment. It takes a holistic approach to health and well-being for older people, going beyond organ and disease-centric approaches.

“Digital equity for all ages” is the theme of this year’s UN International Day of Older Persons.