Health Minister Simon Hamilton has addressed the 4th conference of partners of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP-AHA) in Brussels.
The Minister participated in a panel discussion on the theme of accelerating uptake of active and healthy ageing innovation across Europe.
Speaking at the conference, the Minister said: “My foremost concern in this context is the future sustainability of our healthcare system. The old 20th century model is no longer fit for purpose. Our services are grappling with tremendous pressures in terms of financial stress and growing demands – and without action, these can only intensify. The demographics speak for themselves - by 2050 over a third of the European population will be over 60, and 80% of those aged over 65 will be afflicted by long term conditions.
“However, while the provision of high quality health and social care is an extremely important factor in active and healthy ageing, there are many others. Northern Ireland’s Active Ageing Strategy sets out far-reaching plans to enable us to fully embrace and maximise the role of our older people within society. Its strategic aims – based on the UN Principles for Older Persons - are focused on promoting independent living; supporting the active participation of older people in all aspects of life; provision of quality health and care; self fulfilment; and dignity, with specific reference to challenging ageism and discrimination.”
Whilst at the conference, the Minister will also attend an event for regional ministers hosted by Heinz Becker MEP; hold a number of bi-lateral meetings; and lead the signing of a Declaration of Commitment by representatives of a number of EIP-AHA Reference Site regions, which will precede the signing of a Reference Site Collaborative Network (RSCN) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) next year.
The Minister continued: “Northern Ireland has achieved particular recognition through the EIP in medicines optimisation, having been awarded three star EU reference site status. Medicines are the most commonly used healthcare intervention in our health and social care service - and with an ageing population, and a rising number of people with long term conditions, demand for them is high.
“My ambition is for Northern Ireland to have a world class healthcare system. One that contributes to, and complements, Northern Ireland’s Active Ageing Strategy. But in order for this to happen, reform and innovation is critical. We need to address the barriers more effectively. We need to nurture and reward creativity – particularly from those at the front line of healthcare delivery where the very best ideas often originate – so that innovation and transformation become the norm, embedded into every policy and practice.
“Most importantly, we need to recognise that we cannot do it on our own. We need to look beyond our borders, to join with other regions to pool our knowledge, our creativity and our best practices, in order to steer our healthcare systems down a more sustainable path. There is much to be gained by working collectively.”
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