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Cultivating age-friendly environments is essential at a time when the number of individuals aged 60 or older is projected to more than triple worldwide by 2100.[1] In fact, each year, more than 16 million people die prematurely before the age of 70 from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and four out of five of these deaths occur in developing countries, where there are fewer resources to support healthy aging.[2]

At Pfizer, we are committed to helping people age well by encouraging active lifestyles and strengthening communities worldwide. Since 2015, we have partnered with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the world's largest humanitarian network, to focus on NCD prevention by disseminating healthy aging tools in low- and middle-income countries. We combine our expertise and resources to become strong, active voices in the global healthy aging community.

Together, we have developed practical resources, such as a healthy aging toolkit, facilitator and volunteer guides, for usage by IFRC’s community health volunteers worldwide. The tools provide resources to assess vulnerability, improve quality of life, reduce disability and increase social inclusion and participation in communities. During the first year of the guides’ pilot program, more than 2,000 people were reached with the help of community members and volunteers.[3]

Currently, the IFRC has more than 190 National Societies worldwide with more than 12 million volunteers, who work at the community level. Part of the IFRC’s role is to integrate healthy aging and NCD awareness into the existing training platforms used by these volunteers. The Red Cross of Montenegro (RCM) is a prime example of the impact the IFRC has had at the community level.

The RCM’s Healthy Aging project is supported by the IFRC and implemented in cooperation with schools, health centers, associations of pensioners and daily care centers at the local level in seven municipalities. The challenges of loneliness, inability to perform self-care and daily activities is addressed by volunteers through home visits, and each beneficiary has one or two volunteers who visits them weekly or more, depending on needs.

During the home visits, trained volunteers may provide psychosocial support and humanitarian aid, as well as facilitate healthcare appointments and procurement of medicines. Furthermore, in some municipalities, the RCM also has support from local authorities, who provide professional assistance for beneficiaries. For beneficiaries who are able and willing to be active, the RCM also offers clubs in three municipalities where beneficiaries can do crafts, play games, exercise and attend health presentations.

“Today, I am in a position in my life where I can smile because of someone else’s support,” says Stevka Vujosevic, a homecare beneficiary in Plav, Montenegro. “RCM volunteers care about me and other elderly and lonely people. They are proof that genuine people who care and have values still exist.”

To date, the healthy aging tools developed in partnership with the IFRC have been used in Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia. Year after year, the tools are disseminated to more communities worldwide with continued plans to expand. In addition to expansion in other countries and reaching growing generations, we are working with the IFRC to develop a planning, monitoring, evaluation and reporting resource as part of this endeavor, based on results since the start of the partnership.

Learn more about Pfizer’s partnership with the IFRC in the fight against NCDs and promoting a life-course approach to health.

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[1] http://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/ageing/

[2] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/noncommunicable-diseas...

[3] International Federation of Red Cross Societies and Red Crescent Societies