Published: Friday 15 November 1996

Ageing population will be a serious cause for concern in the coming century according to the World Health Organization (WHO). By 2020, the number of old people is set to nearly double to around one billion. WHO warned that, "If left unattended now, it may have far-reaching consequences for public health services throughout the world." The increase in the numbers of the aged could be due to lower mortality and fertility rates. Seven developing countries including China and India are expected to have the highest proportion of old people by 2020.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNEP), it will be urban poverty which will claim more lives now than say, wars. With more people living in urban centres than in rural areas, "the share of poor families living in urban areas will be 90 per cent in Latin America, and close to 50 per cent in Africa and Asia," according to James Speth, programme administrator, UNEP.

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