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Global Action Web site covers various aging issues

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Susanne Paul
June 30, 2006

By Linda Bloom*

NEW YORK (UMNS) — In Pakistan, tribal elders are losing influence and being increasingly threatened by extremists.

In Nigeria, the pension system is undergoing a fundamental reform. And in the United States, rural life may have a positive affect on older people.

Information on all these aging-related topics – and much more – can be found at, the Web site of Global Action on Aging, a nonprofit organization founded in 1994 by Susanne Paul, former staff member of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

Supporting its vision that the world can be a more welcoming place to older people, the Global Action’s Web site has become a recognized source of worldwide information.

“Our Web site now has over a million hits per month,” Paul said during an informal briefing on June 28 in the organization’s offices at the United Methodist-owned Church Center for the United Nations. “We are publishing this research in the six U.N. languages.”

She gives credit to the organization’s internship program, which draws “talented and committed young people,” for the Web site’s success.

Alischa Kugel of Germany, program coordinator, has worked at Global Action on Aging for two years and is in charge of training new interns.

The interns spend many hours researching for the site’s various sections, including elder rights, health, pension watch, rural aging, armed conflict and aging watch at the United Nations. “We’re updating every day if possible,” she said, noting that she spends three to four hours daily on the site herself “to make sure the information is right.”

In addition to Kugel, the current interns are Amelle Guezoun of France; Jessica Lewis of New York; Natallia Krutouskaya and Alena Shautsova of Belarus; and Sumiko Yamauchi of Japan. Fanny Moreaux, a French intern, has just finished her term of service.

Chiquita Smith, retired staff member of the Women’s Division, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, said she has conversations with members of United Methodist Women who are impressed by the information and research offered by the Web site.

Her response, she added, is that “it’s information you’ve got to share with others.”

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A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose

Global Action on Aging is focused on making the world a more welcoming place for older people.

One of Smith’s current concerns on the topic of aging is how seniors are faring under the new Medicare drug prescription program. She suggested the organization do a survey among subscribers, asking if they signed up for the program and are satisfied with the process and whether they have experienced price increases for medicines and co-payments.

Paolo Saad, population affairs officer for the United Nations Population Division and an expert on aging, said he hopes to strengthen the cooperation between his division and Global Action on Aging. The population division has a mandate from member states to study population and aging.

He called the Global Action on Aging Web site “a valuable source of information, not only for researchers, but for policy-makers and students.”

His division, which keeps population statistics based on age and gender, has used the site as a source of information “to know the reality…of older populations,” Saad said.

The U.N. Commission on Population and Development, which meets once a year, is going to devote its agenda in April 2007 to the issue of aging. “This is in recognition of the importance of this subject,” he added.

The Population Division’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs also has just released its 2006 statistics on the aging of the population. The wall chart includes indicators of aging for various countries and regions.

This year, for example, the number of people aged 60 years or over is estimated at 866 million. The majority, 54 percent, live in Asia while the next largest number, 22 percent, live in Europe. While the percent of older persons currently is much higher in more developed regions, “the pace of aging in developing countries is more rapid.”

Paul noted that many of the U.N. staff who handle issues or “focal points” that affect older people “don’t know each other.” She hopes to remedy that in the future by sponsoring informal get-togethers for them.

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or

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