Leaders from the Americas Discuss Innovations in Healthy Aging in Latin America

With rising life expectancy, one-sixth of the population will be 65 or older by 2050. The demographic shift poses both challenges and opportunities for the workplace, healthcare, technology, and housing. On February 3, Meridian brought together leaders from across the Americas for the latest Diplocraft program, Innovations in Healthy Aging in Latin America, to explore lessons learned from across the region in healthy aging in Latin America and how they can be applied throughout the world. This fully virtual program served as the launch of the latest edition of AARP International’s award-winning publication The Journal. Check out The Journal here.

Moderated by Stephanie Firestone, Senior Strategic Policy Advisor for Health & Age-friendly Communities from AARP, the program featured remarks from the following speakers:

Dr. Jose Ricardo Jauregui 
President-elect, International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG)

Kerri Hannan
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State

His Excellency Fernando Llorca
Ambassador of Costa Rica

His Excellency Jorge Argüello
Ambassador of Argentina

Dr. Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian
Director of Social Inclusion, Organization of American States

Edwin L. Walker
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Here are the top takeaways from the program:


The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and amplified the gaps in healthcare systems across the world. Existing gaps in services and policies for older adults were especially highlighted. These challenges were met with adaptation and creativity. Maximizing the use of technology has enabled in-person caregiving to be conducted virtually. DAS Walker emphasized creative solutions like grab & go and drive thru options that safely provided tests, vaccines, and medications for older people. This fundamental shift in methods of providing care to older adults will be retained post-pandemic.


“It is clear that aging will be one of the great issues in the 21st century,” declared Ambassador Jorge Argüello of Argentina. The UN Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021-2030) is serving to bring this issue into focus, connect stakeholders, highlight the intersecting challenges and opportunities of a rapidly expanding aging population. This backdrop also offers a timely opportunity to bring together members of the Organization of American States to approve and ratify the Inter-American Convention on Protecting the Rights of Older Persons. “It is not going to magically change the lives of everyday people, but it establishes commitments,” stated Director Muñoz-Pogossian.


“Latin America is a region where poverty and inequity in access to structural rights, health, housing, a decent and inclusive pension, among others, mark the course of life of individuals, families, communities, and of course, the most vulnerable groups in our societies,” said Dr. Jauregui. This sentiment is echoed in the AARP Aging Readiness and Competitiveness 3.0 Report which underscores the hurdles for older adults who seek access to quality care. Within aging there must also be special consideration for those in situations of structural inequality and discrimination. This would include Black, Indigenous, and People of Color populations; those who identify as LGBTQ+; and rural inhabitants. A commitment must be made to translate policy from a national to local level so that marginalized communities who have been left behind are finally be brought into the fold.


International and national policies are key, but they must supply a framework for local communities who often provide the bulk of caregiving support for older adults, especially in Latin American countries. Ambassador Argüello stressed his country's comprehensive housing act for people over 60 years old as a prime example of a policy adopted to promote and foster healthy aging. Ambassador Llorca discussed Costa Rica’s exploration of the impact of community services on life expectancy and happiness looking particularly in the northern town of Nicoya. The documentation of positive experiences of aging can be used as a template for other parts of the world but there may not always be the same success and replicability given these different regions. DAS Walker underscored how replicability of policy and programs will be the cornerstone of care for the aging population.


Research must become an essential part of the response of governments in Latin America. “The best policy responses are always based on evidence,” posited Director Muñoz-Pogossian, and indeed the need to generate statistical information which considers all intersections of problems faced by older people will be paramount to systematizing policy responses for the future. Dr. Jauregui also points out, “Academic societies and universities often have inadequate resources to face the complex intersectionalities of aging.” This shortage of high-quality research must be remedied. A strong teaching program for gerontologists and geriatricians was also highlighted as an area of prioritization by the IAGG.

Additional Resources:
Innovation and Leadership in Healthy Aging (aarpinternational.org)
Healthy Aging - PAHO/WHO | Pan American Health Organization
Healthy aging in the Americas | Pan American Journal of Public Health (paho.org)
Program-Innovations-in-Healthy-Aging-in-Latin-America.pdf (meridian.org) 

This program was generously supported by AARP

Project summary

Leaders from the Americas Discuss Innovations in Healthy Aging in Latin America | February 2022
Number of Attendees: 85
Regions: Western Hemisphere
Countries: Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico, United Kingdom
Impact Areas: Global Health
Program Areas: Diplomatic Engagement
Partners: Diplomatic Corps, NGOs, Private Sector