Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has stated that after the 18th Constitutional Amendment, it is now upon the provincial governments to formulate integrated health care services with the concurrence of all relevant stakeholders. "Health is a provincial subject after the 18th Constitutional Amendment. It is now upon the provincial governments to formulate integrated health care services with the concurrence of all relevant stakeholders," Gilani said in his message on the occasion of World Health Day observed on April 7 each year to mark the establishment of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948.

The Prime Minister said the purpose of observing this yearly event is to highlight the challenges facing the health sector, review our responses and debate strategies to overcome the health hazards. "The day aims to raise awareness among the masses about the dos and don'ts to improve the health conditions at a grass-roots level through enhanced community involvement. It also calls for forming joint collaborations and employing partnership approach on the part of the governments, private sector, medical fraternity and media to focus on health issues in a holistic manner," he added.

The Prime Minister said the selection of this year's theme namely "Good health adds life to years" underscores the importance of staying healthy and the impact of health on aging.

The theme conveys the message that if individuals adopt healthy habits and healthy life-style through conscious efforts, they can slow down the phenomenon of aging and inject productivity to life, he added.

The Prime Minister said the statistical data on aging in Pakistan indicates positive indicators. At the moment, the senior citizens constitute 4.2% of the total population, which is likely to double by 2025, he added.

"The average life expectancy of citizens, which at the moment is almost 66 years is also likely to touch 72 year mark in a decade or so. This national trend is in line with the global phenomenon of declining death rates and increasing life-spans," he maintained.

However, the Prime Minister said, it may be added at the same time that the old people including both men and women are more risk-prone to diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, rheumatism, pain in the joints, gradual erosion of immunity and cancers than people in other age groups.

He said the dangers to the health of senior citizens can be significantly reduced by urging them to adopt healthy daily habits such as walks, exercise, simple food-intake, and rest.

The Prime Minister said families in particular and society at large can contribute to a large extent to making the senior citizens the productive members of society through greater care and deeper interaction.

He said, "The presence of elderly people in our familial context is considered to be a blessing. Hence, it highlights the need to pay more and organized attention to their well-being as part of our social and religious obligation."

"It also puts an added responsibility on the medical fraternity to particularly focus on the training and orientation of its staff to take care of the elderly," he added.

"On this day, let us pledge to join the global community in its efforts to combat the health hazards with a single-minded agenda," the Prime Minister stressed.