ARCHIVED: Building a Global Framework to Address the Needs and Contributions of Older People in Emergencies – Background to the Winnipeg workshop


8. The Public Health Agency of Canada's (PHAC) involvement in issues related to seniors and emergency preparedness began after participating in the Presidential Symposium on the 2004 Tsunami and Older People, convened at the June 2005 International Association of Gerontology World Congress (IAG).  The Symposium confirmed that older people are often given low priority when it comes to relief distribution and that few international humanitarian agencies develop programmes specifically tailored to older people.

9. Subsequent to the IAG Congress, PHAC hosted a meeting of international participants attending the White House Conference on Ageing in December 2005 to explore the creation of a framework and principles for international co-operation on the issue of older people in disaster situations.  This meeting resulted in a commitment to continue working collaboratively at the international level.  To that end, an expert working meeting was held in February 2006 in Toronto, Canada.  This meeting facilitated the exchange of knowledge among international, provincial and territorial governments, and non-government experts.  At the meeting, participants expressed the need to hold an International Workshop that would provide a platform to increase international awareness of the need and opportunities to plan effectively for older people and other vulnerable groups in the context of emergency preparedness.

10. The Winnipeg Workshop was sponsored by the Government of Canada and the Province of Manitoba, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and was held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, February 6-9, 2007.  The workshop brought together over one hundred experts and stakeholders from both the emergency management and seniors' perspectives and was designed to mobilize networks and identify priorities for influencing changes to emergency preparedness policies and practices to better integrate seniors' contributions and needs in crisis situations.

11. The goals of the workshop were to:

  1. Achieve a common understanding of current evidence and status of seniors and emergency planning activities in Canada, other countries, and globally.
  2. Identify key policy options to address gaps and encourage the use of better practices.
  3. Identify opportunities for further collaborative action within countries and at the global level and prioritize next steps at all levels.
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