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2011 Conference on Healthy and Age-Friendly Cities

In order to better understand the progress of domestic counties and cities in promoting international age-friendly cities and to act together, the Conference on Healthy and Age-Friendly Cities was held in the Conference Hall of Mackay Memorial Hospital, Hsinchu from July 26th to 27th, 2011. Two experts, Dr. Ruth Finkelstein, the vice president of Health Policy in the New York Academy of Medicine, and Prof. Takiko Okamoto from Meiji Gakuin University were invited to share their experiences. Dr. Ruth Finkelstein shared her experience of helping New York City become the first member of the WHO’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities. She also introduced six strategies of Age-Friendly New York City, which include planning for an aging population when making upgrades, ensuring that elders know about existing opportunities and resources, engaging different professional networks, helping businesses better serve and attract the elderly, modifying existing resources in creative new ways, mobilizing local communities to get resources to make neighborhoods better for older adults. Prof. Takiko Okamoto introduced the development of age-friendly cities in Tokyo and Akita. The first age-friendly city in Taiwan, Chiayi City, which applied to join the WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities on June 30th, introduced their promotion strategies and progress. Some domestic experts and scholars were also invited to make speeches, exchange opinions on the cooperation between private and public sectors, and discuss eight dimensions for age-friendly city, namely outdoor space and buildings, transportation, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication and information, and community support and health services.
Domestic and international experts and scholars exchanged key principles in promoting international age-friendly cities, which included aging populations are not a crisis but an opportunity, conducting needs assessment with the elderly, cooperation between the government and the people, cooperation among different sectors and domains, introducing changes with present budgets rather than dramatically increasing expenditure, and other suggestions to lead the trend.
At a time when the aging population is increasing around the world, the Bureau of Health Promotion (BHP) responded to the WHO’s project and began to promote “age-friendly cities” in 2010 to provide the elderly compatible and accessible cities to promote active ageing, delay aging, and shorten disability. Such a foresighted and international policy has been adopted in nine counties and cities in 2011 and is expected to expand to eleven counties and cities in 2012, and eventually to all 22 counties and cities in Taiwan in 2014. The BHP aims to promote Taiwan as the country with the largest coverage of age-friendly cities in the world.

Source: Bureau of Health Promotion, Department of Health, R.O.C.(Taiwan)(now known as Health Promotion Administration)