Resolution accepted at the 14th Council Meeting, Budapest, Hungary, April 1-3, 2011
Life expectancy continues to lengthen by around three months every year globally, with differences in the life expectancy in poorer and richer countries diminishing. For example, life expectancy is rising six months a year in Bangladesh, five months a year in Senegal, and "only" two to three months a year in the European Union.
- There is continued great progress in improving the health of people thanks to improved economic conditions and accelerating technological improvements;
- The average length of human life is longer than ever, with people living in good health for many more years than before;
- Life expectancy continues to lengthen by around three months every year globally, with differences in the life expectancy in poorer and richer countries diminishing. For example, life expectancy is rising six months a year in Bangladesh, five months a year in Senegal, and "only" two to three months a year in the European Union.
However, considering also that
- Pollution continues to increasingly impact the health of millions of people, particularly in emerging economies; - Lifestyle trends, such as unhealthy diets and the use of tobacco and alcohol, are also causing diseases and early mortality, with the possibility of their effects even negating or reversing the rise in life expectancy if left unchecked;
- Average life expectancy is stagnating or even decreasing in some countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and in the former USSR due mainly to poverty, HIV and alcohol consumption.
Further taking into account
- The recent "Consultation on the pilot European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing" and especially the "aims to increase the average healthy lifespan in the EU by two years by 2020"; - The increasing economic burden that healthcare costs will place on the ageing populations of Europe, with an increasingly large share of the costs incurred during the very last year(s) of life;
- The rapid progress in medical technologies in fields related to neurology, stem cells, regeneration techniques and nanotechnology, may increase the risk that new technological advances will be available only to those wealthy enough to afford them.
Taking the points of view that
- The rise in life expectancy is a positive trend for the citizens of the world;
- The continued reduction in the life expectancy gap between the poor and the rich should be striven for.
-the human genetics revolution raises profound social and ethical questions including a possible resurgence of eugenics. There is a widespread concern that genetics is running ahead of society's ability to cope with these issues. It is the duty of political bodies to set responsible limits on these developments.
The European Green Party announces the following political and ethical positions:
- Money or place of birth should ideally have no influence on the length of life. - The aim needs to be to make developments in medical technology to be made available to everyone on the planet;
- The cost of care for the last year(s) of life should not be used as a reason to refuse to care for the eldest, but it should be used as a reason to invest in technologies slowing down age-related diseases;
- Publicly funded research into technologies enabling longer, healthier lives must be encouraged, especially at European level, under strict ethical regulation taking into account that gene therapy might be a possibility to ensure a better life for millions of people suffering from debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s ;
- Intellectual property rights need to be managed intelligently in a way that they do not inhibit the further development of research and the EGP supports the continuing campaign against the patenting of all life-forms.
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