Rapid population aging is transforming societies around the world, and the Asia-Pacific region is on the frontlines of this unprecedented demographic shift. Life expectancy in Japan, South Korea, and much of urban China has now outpaced that of the United States and other high-income countries. With this triumph of longevity, however, comes a host of health, social, and economic challenges.
Longer lifespans will necessitate working to older ages, “but extending work lives will only be feasible if the added years are healthy ones, and will only be equitable if the least advantaged also benefit from healthy aging,” writes APARC Deputy Director and Asia Health Policy Program Director Karen Eggleston in her new book, Healthy Aging in Asia. “The great blessing of longer lives dims when clouded by pain, disability, and loss of dignity.”
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Societies around the world must reduce disparities in health outcomes and address the older age-associated rise in the burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the vulnerability of older adults suffering from NCDs to newly emerging pathogens and the importance of building long-term, resilient health systems.
How are health systems in Asia promoting evidence-based policies for healthy aging? What strategies have they used to prevent NCDs, screen for early disease detection, raise the quality of care, improve medication adherence, reduce unnecessary hospitalizations, and increase “value for money” in health spending?
The concise chapters in Healthy Aging in Asia examine these questions, covering multiple aspects of policy initiatives and economic research on healthy longevity in diverse Asian economies — from cities such as Singapore and Hong Kong to powerhouses such as Japan, India, and China — as they transform their health systems to support wellbeing in older age. Eggleston edited and contributed multiple chapters to this new volume, now available via Brookings Institution Press. This publication is part of APARC’s in-house series with the Brookings Institution.
China has tremendous resources, both human and financial, but it may now be facing a perfect