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SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 8, 1999 - (PACNEWS)---The World Health Organization (WHO) has appealed to regional governments to recognize and acknowledge older people as valuable resources.

WHO’s Western Pacific Regional Director, Dr. Shigeru Omi, says policy makers, health workers and community activists should work together to promote "active aging."

"The rights of individuals must be maintained and protected as they age," he said.

Pacific Island governments should review their policies to cater to the needs of their aging population, Dr. Omi said, because of emerging modern concerns such as the rise in nuclear families, rapid urbanization and gender imbalance.

"Governments should ensure access to comprehensive health services for older persons."

Dr. Omi made his comments as the region marked World Health Day, entitled Active Aging.

This year has been declared the International Year of Older Persons.

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