WHO: World Health Organization

Topic A: Ageism and Access to Health Services

All across the world, populations are steadily aging. In 2010, roughly 524 million people were aged 65 or older, but by 2050, this number is expected to rise up to 1.5 billion people, around 16% of the world’s population. It is important to note that the vast majority of these aging populations can be found in developing countries due to reduced fertility and improvements in longevity. Developing countries will need to adapt fast to these new changes. With even more people growing even older, a variety of challenges lie ahead. For example, an aging population leads to an increase in demand of short-term and long-term care services, for which infrastructure like hospitals, medical schools, and medical devices must be built. The international community, under the leadership of the WHO, will have to ensure that older people have access to the resources needed to spend their later years free of illness and disease.

Topic B: Fertility Rates in Developing Countries

Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is the number of children born to a woman during her lifetime. A “replacement level” fertility, meaning zero population growth (ignoring immigration and other effects), is about 2.1. While in countries such as the United States the TFR is 1.87, in other, more developing countries such as Burundi the TFR is 6.04. This is due to a multitude of factors such as less common use of contraceptives and differing cultural views of childbirth and parenthood. Countries that have tried to change their TFR such as China have been successful in lowering their fertility rates, but have also seen negative consequences such as gender imbalances and violence against women, such as forced abortions of females. Attitudes towards TFR differ from country to country. While many Western countries believe that the global TFR needs to be lowered, others believe that a high TFR is critical for their national prosperity. With so many conflicting views and so many important consequences, it is important for the international community to discuss how to manage the world’s fertility.

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