Population Health Insights

T-2 Countdown to World Health Day – Jim Pursley

IM PURSLEY, GENERAL MANAGER, INDEPENDENT LIVING – Recent themes for World Health Day have been antimicrobial resistance, urbanization and health, and hospital safety. In your opinion, what makes “aging and health” such an important topic for World Health Day 2012?

Aging spans all socio-economic, ethnic, racial, and national borders. It is a reality that all people and all nations must face and will have a profound impact on the health and wealth of nations. Standard & Poors calls it the defining force that will determine the economic fate of nations in the 21st century (paraphrased). I can think of few other forces that will have a more palpable impact on the next 50 years than global aging. While it presents many challenges, it also presents abundant opportunities.

Why did you decide to work in this field? What does helping older adults mean to you personally?

I have enormous respect for our elders and believe that we owe a debt of deep gratitude to a generation who contributed so much to the way of life we now enjoy. Working at Care Innovations is a pleasure and a privilege and while insufficient, is my way of giving back to a generation who gave us all so very much.

Since Care Innovations was formed, what’s the one thing you’re most proud of accomplishing in the area of "aging and health"?

One thing I'm very proud of at Care Innovations is the pioneering spirit I see around me in my 200+ colleagues. This team has the vision and courage to spend every day creating a new reality of aging and health that isn't well-defined yet. Although the immediate ROI isn't always evident, we know and believe that we can have a positive impact on millions of lives globally. We are paving a path for others who will continue to innovate and improve over the coming decades; I’d like to think that 10 years from now, we can look back and realize that we built a foundation. This unbridled enthusiasm and commitment is a great source of professional pride.

If you could make a single ask of the 193 countries that make up the membership of the World Health Organization, what would it be? What should they do to demonstrate their commitment to "aging and health"?

Today, governments are expending enormous resources focused on green technology. I'd ask the 193 countries to invest the same amount of resources in "gray technology" – or technologies that can help bend the cost curve and improve quality while empowering the aging population to live with dignity, health, and confidence. Governments and companies around the world must better understand the implications of global aging; as they are imminent and significant. My call to action, therefore, is immediate increased investment, research, policy-making, and program creation around gray tech. The health and wealth of nations depends on our ability to act.