8TH INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON HEALTHY AGING For a healthy and successful longevity

Astrid Barnet

WITH the principal objective of finding alternatives for prolonged and healthy aging, as a primordial human need in this century, the 8th International Congress on Satisfactory Longevity: a Holistic Approach, has just taken place in Havana.

The event, sponsored by the Caribbean Medical Association (AMECA) and the 120 Years Club with its president, Dr. Eugenio Selman-Housein Abdo, brought together scientists, specialists, and national and international researchers. They discussed subjects which included: motivation for healthy aging, health care, diet, physical exercise, cultural activities, the environment and sexual issues…all linked to a satisfactory longevity.

In addition, given the importance to human beings of psychological, biological and reproductive balance, one extra topic was added to the Congress agenda: “Sexuality throughout the life cycle.”

Population aging poses an unavoidable challenge to guarantee, throughout the human life cycle, activities and actions that will allow people to grow and develop in line with their bio-psycho-social needs. It is as if, as we move from one stage of life to another, alternatives for longevity need to be promoted with a view to an improved social insertion.

For that reason, different social groups – and in particular governments with political will – need to mobilize resources and make collective efforts to achieve the goal of satisfactory longevity.

Current problems such as the economic, social and ecological crises that are affecting humanity, are also threatening the quality of life of older adults, as can clearly be seen in this first decade of the 21st century. Hence the question: What can we do to avoid that situation?

Likewise, part of the focus of this congress and a special activity, was the 6th Centenarians Roundtable with its centenarian members, the pride of the 120 Years Club, as examples of exceptional success in healthy aging.

A research project coordinated by the National Department of Older Adults and Social Services, attached to the Ministry of Public Health, recently revealed that Cuba has more than 1,500 citizens over the age of 100. By the same token, an updating of the Estudio de Centenarios en la Isla (Study of Centenarians on the Island), undertaken from 2004 to 2008, shows that another 53 older adults have joined this group in the last two years.

In 1990, the UN Development Program (UNDP) initiated an international debate to oppose the idea of measuring human development and well-being solely in terms of per capita income. In that context, the Cuban health project had a decisive influence on the incorporation of basic aspects such as: life expectancy at birth, access to health care, access to education and access to social security.

Another basic consideration was the equality of rights achieved on the island and equality of access to the above vital resources, facts that guarantees people the possibility of a higher level of spiritual existence – both individually, as family members and socially – as well as their participation in the productive sector, in cultural activities and interaction with the environment. This is what makes Cuba, in spite of its low per capita income, a country with significant advances in human development.

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