For the first time, ageing and dermatology experts and global thought leaders have come together to promote skin health as a critical component of active and healthy ageing.
More than 20 medical, academic, non-profit, government and business leaders are participating in today’s “Manchester Summit: A Life Course of Active Ageing and Healthy Skin.”
The Summit is hosted by The University of Manchester, Manchester City Council, International League of Dermatological Societies (ILDS) and Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA), and supported by Galderma.
According to UN calculations, there will be 1 billion people 60 years and older on earth by 2020. Shortly thereafter, there will be more people in this category than children under 14. This shift raises concerns for the global health community as the prevalence of skin diseases will rise and have implications for social and economic policy.
Professor Chris Griffiths, Foundation Professor of Dermatology at The University of Manchester, and Board Member of the International League of Dermatological Societies, said: “Our skin is the first line of defence against illness and the hazards of the environment. As we age, skin becomes frailer, making it weaker, dryer, thinner and more susceptible to irritation, infection and with poor wound healing. This vulnerability has implications on individuals, communities and health systems.”
Michael Hodin, Executive Director of the Global Coalition on Aging, said: “As lifespans increase and birthrates decrease, conditions that are widely associated with growing old, including the deterioration of our skin, become more prevalent.
“We cannot continue to operate within systems created for 20th-century demographics. We need a new approach that focusses on prevention and care across the life course to drive efficiencies in healthcare costs and contribute to a more fiscally sustainable economy.”
Skin diseases and the risks associated with them like falls and hospital re-admissions rise with age. For example, the symptoms of diabetes can lead to diabetic foot infection, which can lead to poor balance. Virtually all cancer patients, targeted therapies, chemotherapy and radiotherapy result in uncomfortable and painful drug-induced dermatosis.
Research also shows one in every three cancers diagnosed is skin cancer, and 82 percent of non-melanoma skin cancer cases occur in people over 60. One out of every two people over 65 suffers from xerosis, intense dryness of the skin, which can lead to infection and wounds. In addition to the physical effects and medical costs, these conditions have psychological effects and impact quality of life.
The Manchester Summit is a one-day discussion, which aims to address the link between skin health and active ageing, and foster partnerships and collaboration focused on research, training and practical applications to ensure healthy skin is a priority for 21st-century active ageing.
“Manchester has long been committed to enabling our older citizens to stay healthy, mobile and active in society through our participation in the World Health Organisation’s Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities,” said Paul McGarry, Senior Strategy Manager of Age-friendly Manchester for Manchester City Council. “We are proud to be hosting the Summit and to be leading the way for healthy skin as a core component of age-friendly initiatives globally.”
One strategy that will be discussed will be the establishment of a Global Network of Centres of Excellence on Skin Ageing Across the Life Course to align the goals of the ageing and dermatology communities; develop a research agenda to enhance understanding of the science of skin ageing and the resulting physical, mental and social effects; and analyse the economic and fiscal impact of healthy skin on active and healthy ageing.
“Maintaining healthy skin across the life course must be made a priority on the global heath and ageing agenda,” said Humberto C. Antunes, President and CEO of Galderma, the Summit’s supporting partner. “The Manchester Summit is a bold first step, aligning medical, business, government, NGO and academic communities to create and implement local and global strategies to encourage healthy skin ageing.”
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