The Global Platform’s final blog… hopefully.
To stop work on an idea, plan, or job, but leaving it in such a way that you can start on it again at some point in the future.
(Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus, Cambridge University Press).
The Global Platform first came together in early 2020 as an ad hoc and spontaneous “we need to do something” response to the terrifying first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, it hosted webinars, posted blogs and short papers and sought to focus attention on the threats posed to older people in low and middle-income countries.
During 2022, as you can see on our website, the Global Platform became much less active. The pandemic appeared to have become a more manageable and less existential global threat, and other organisations had, at least to some extent, taken up the baton with reference to older people in the global south.
As a new year begins, this seems like as good a time as any to mark the closure of the Global Platform. Hopefully, for good.
I really don’t want to contemplate the circumstances that would justify bringing the Global Platform back. Clearly, COVID-19 is still with us and still poses a disproportionate risk to the health and survival of the most vulnerable older people. The focus of the pandemic has flitted from country to country and variant to new variant. Currently, it is China’s “turn”, and the reluctance of its official agencies to share data on the pandemic is an issue that the Global Platform repeatedly raised with reference to other countries. Despite mass vaccination, large numbers of older people, especially in poor countries, are yet to receive a first dose, let alone a booster. And, of course, the threat of virulent and deadly new variants remains. It is to be hoped that at least some lessons have been learned over the past three years. The lack of a major global report (either published or, to my knowledge, in the pipeline) that takes comprehensive stock of how the pandemic affected older people is deeply disappointing. The numbers of older people who died during the pandemic have varied enormously between countries. In Poland, for example, age-standardised excess mortality during 2020 was nearly ten times the rate in neighbouring Germany (Islam et al, 2021). One wonders what lessons, positive and negative, could be extracted from these divergent experiences.
We’re not quite out of the woods yet.
Before signing off for the last time, there are many, many people and organisations who must be thanked and acknowledged for the support and participation over the years. They have included academics, experts and policymakers from over 50 countries, often giving up valuable time when they were facing huge pressures and stress. You can find their names all over the website (which we will keep afloat for now): webinar presenters and participants, contributors to our COVID-19 mortality calculator and the many authors of blogs and papers. Especial thanks are due to:-
The University of East Anglia, for funding this operation.
Alida Kuzemczak-Sayer of Studio Rose for her outstanding work on web-design and communications.
Lucas Sempé, of Queen Margaret’s University for his multiple contributions to all aspects of the Global Platform and his wise counsel.
Thanks everyone and have a good 2023,
Islam N, Shkolnikov V M, Acosta R J, Klimkin I, Kawachi I, Irizarry R A et al. Excess deaths associated with covid-19 pandemic in 2020: age and sex disaggregated time series analysis in 29 high income countries BMJ 2021; 373 :n1137.