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Wednesday, April 03, 2002 Contact: AoA Press Office
(202) 401-4541

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced today that the department’s Assistant Secretary for Aging Josefina G. Carbonell is preparing to lead the U.S. delegation to the Second World Assembly on Ageing in Madrid, Spain, April 8-12.

During the assembly, member states of the United Nations will gather to discuss and finalize the International Plan of Action on Ageing, a revision of the 1982 International Plan of Action developed by the First World Assembly on Ageing. The plan will serve as a blueprint for governments worldwide in addressing critical issues facing rapid global population aging, including health, development, migration, environment and intergenerational concerns.

HHS’ Administration on Aging (AoA) is the lead U.S. coordinator for the development of the International Plan of Action on Ageing.

"The needs of the aging global community are never more apparent than they are today," Secretary Thompson said. "There are more than 600 million older persons around the globe. As a country, we must work with our many international partners to make sure that older persons in the U.S. and around the world are treated with respect, dignity and compassion now through the last years of life."

According to the United Nations, the number of persons age 60 and older will reach 629 million this year, and is projected to grow to almost 2 billion by the year 2050 – outnumbering the population of children under 14 for the first time in human history. Every month, nearly 1 million people turn 60 and more than 80 percent live in developing countries. Furthermore, persons 80 years of age and older are the fastest growing segment of the elderly population worldwide.

"There is an urgent need to develop sound, measurable policies that can be applied to the world’s aging population," Carbonell said. "The AoA will continue to lead departmental efforts in the global response to aging, and will spearhead domestic initiatives to further support America’s 35 million elderly."

The AoA budget request for fiscal year 2003 is $1.3 billion, which includes funding for the National Family Caregiver Support Program, home and community support services, Senior Medicare patrols, training and research projects, and funding for AoA’s Meals on Wheels Nutrition Program -- 30 years old in March 2002, having served 6 billion meals to senior Americans since the program’s creation in 1972.

The assembly will come on the heels of the Valencia Forum, a global scientific gerontology meeting currently being held in Valencia, Spain. At the forum, researchers from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging, as well as academicians, scientists and clinicians, are highlighting recommendations published by the National Academy of Sciences on cross-national research on aging.

Rounding out the U.S. delegation will be members of Congress and representatives from academia, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector.