Lack of information on older population haunts policy making

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The Covid-19 pandemic had an adverse impact worldwide, especially for the older people. Not only this, the pandemic has also magnified existing violations of their rights, according to a new report. Moreover, the report said that information related to the realities of older people were not available with the Governments.

UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons Claudia Mahler presented the report to the Human Rights Council. In the report, Mahler mentioned that lack of data means that inequalities faced by older persons frequently remained invisible.

“The exclusion of older persons from surveys and national censuses affects the ability to understand the extent to which they are able to participate in society and enjoy their human rights on an equal basis with others,” said Mahler.

The report also mentioned gaps in care, age discrimination and poverty, which are considered to be of great concern.  The report points out that most of the demographic and health surveys excluded women over 50 years of age and men over 55 or 60 years of age.

Policymakers and decisions

The report pointed out that decision makers, without meaningful and reliable data, faced critical difficulties in framing public policy that is inclusive of the needs of older persons Mahler said “data fosters essential knowledge about the needs of older persons and enables policymakers to identify gaps and therefore to improve their approach and measures.”

The report notes that data also contributed to awareness and empowerment of older persons. It would “change the perceptions of later life, especially for it to be more than an inevitable stage of deficit and decline.”

Improved and disaggregated data

The report had called for immediate improvement of data collection methodologies. It said that data should be disaggregated to ensure that it is collected using a human rights-based approach. Disaggregation by age and other critical socio-demographic variables like gender, education, living arrangements, income and employment helps in properly analysing and comparing it with other population groups, the report added.

Moreover, the report notes that age cohorts should get reflected in the data as the needs, priorities and capacities of the older and very older people differ.

Mahler also opined that the older population should be made part of data collection, analysis and similar things. She also maintained that digital data revolution created “unprecedented possibilities” to address the data gap on older people. She opined that the data should only be used for the purpose for which older persons have consented to. They should be used giving full respect for privacy and maintaining human rights standards.



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