History and Background
Since 2005 the Sealy Center on Aging has been committed to expanding research and training programs focused on the health of older adults throughout Latin America
On June 13, 2005, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization designated UTMB as a Collaborating Center on Aging and Health during a ceremony at UTMB. Martha Pelaez, PhD, regional advisor for aging and health with WHO/PAHO, presented a certificate to Dr. James Goodwin, director of UTMB's Sealy Center on Aging, designating UTMB as the home of the collaborating center. Dr. Pelaez is responsible for technical collaboration on public health and aging to 28 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Dr. Pelaez told the approximately 80 member audience to brace for serious problems among aging Hispanics in Latin America over the next 45 years. Not only will these countries have to resolve how to care for hundreds of millions of older adults, she said, but at the same time meet the needs created by a relatively high birth rate. “The collaborating center at UTMB will help solve these problems,” Dr. Pelaez said.
The Challenge for the Center
Several regional challenges face the WHO/PAHO initiative:
- Determine how to monitor, evaluate and analyze the health status of older adults
- Provide the capacity to conduct clinical research on the health of older adults
- Provide education and training of public health personal to respond to the health needs of older adults
- Adapt Primary Health Care to the health needs of older adults.
- Conduct rigorous population research aimed at increasing knowledge to support decision-making at all levels
The mission of the WHO/PAHO Collaborating Center is to work to improve the health of older people in the Americas, with focus on the neediest populations.
This is accomplished by equipping countries with population data, proven best-practice tools, knowledge solutions, and expertise, and by activating networks and partnerships that catalyze and sustain positive change. The purpose of the WHO/PAHO Collaborating Centers is:
- To collaborate with World Health Organization (WHO) and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in identifying institutions in Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America willing to establish formal research collaborations and pursue opportunities for clinical and scientific training with a focus on older adults.
- To support a faculty exchange program with partner institutions whereby faculty spend 3-12 months learning and applying research and scientific methods to the study of older Latino adults.
- To establish training opportunities in aging research for doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows from Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America.
- To establish clinical fellowship experiences for physicians, nurses and other health care professionals from partner institutions in geriatric medicine and health care.
- To cooperate and collaborate with WHO and PAHO on the translation and dissemination of research findings on older adults through conferences, publications and electronic media to improve clinical practices, refine educational curricula and shape public policy.
The Center will focus its research program towards the elimination of obesity as a health risk among the elderly in Latin America populations.