Kai Faulkner – 11988021
According to data by Worldbank, over the past 55 years the percentage of Chinese citizens aged 65 and over has increased from 5% to 8%. This means that in China alone, there are more than 100 million people aged over 65. This is an enormous group of stakeholders and it is only growing. Of course there is a plethora of challenges and also associated areas of opportunity as we look to design for this group of people.
In China, Stroke is both the leading cause of death and also the leading cause of disability amongst the elderly. Often seen following a stroke are movement disorders and vascular cognitive impairment with a great medical burden. One of the biggest challenges with stroke is its unpredictability. It can occur anytime, anywhere and there is an incredibly narrow treatment window. “The stroke mortality rate in China is declining through intervention and proper control of hypertension.”  The most important action when responding to a case of stroke is quick intervention. Recently Germany launched the stroke unit known as the ‘Stroke Emergency Mobile’ (STEMO) that is a mobile unit with CT scanning equipment and laboratory to allow for proper diagnosis and stabilising en-route to hospital. Of course, this is one huge opportunity area to design for.
In China, evidence suggests that NCD’s (non-communicable diseases) account for 87% of deaths overall, and central to these problems is the marked decrease in physical activity. This is seen as an area for rapid improvements as physical activity research is still in very early stages in china, as they currently only contribute to 3% of research outputs. According to the journal of sport and health science, they have identified 4 areas of improvements and suggestions for future research.
- Physical activity across domains and the intensity continuum.
More research is needed across all intensity levels of PA, particularly light-intensity and sedentary behaviour and looking at overall patterns and distributions in China in relation to obesity.
- Physical activity in a broader context of prevention.
It’s not all about using energy and preventing obesity. There is much scope for exploring the comprehensive outcomes of PA with a focus on areas where evidence is still being gathered.
- Interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration.
It is not only relevant to sports scientists, but a large amount of cross-discipline areas, who can work together applying their independent knowledge and practices.
- Opportunistic evaluation of policies, programs and environmental changes.
China presents a unique opportunity for rapid scalability of specific interventions so that they can be delivered across the many communities.
Ageing in China will also have ranging economic impacts, which present a set of challenges. Over the past 30 years, the Chinese ‘economic miracle’ has been very dependent upon cheap capital and cheap labour. Unfortunately, as the population ageing continues, these comparative advantages are diminished gradually. So theoretically, with all other conditions held constant, economic development in China will be impeded by ageing which results in a reduced workforce supply and lowered saving rates. (Banister et al., 2012; Peng, 2008) This in turn with higher government expenditure on pensions, health-care and long term care mean that the overall savings rate in China is expected to decline dramatically meaning that future investment and growth may have to come from new areas.
Overall, it appears that the scape in China presents itself as being very ‘up and coming’ and also fluid and elastic with many areas for improvement on, physical health, physical activity and economic growth, just to name a few.
Baanister, J. Bloom, D E. Rosenberg, L. 2012, Population Aging and Economic Growth in China, The Chinese Economy; A New Transition, 114-149, Palgrave Macmillan, New York.
Chen, H. Zhang, T H. 2016, Urbanization and Public Health in China, Imperial College Press, London, pages 39-45.
Ding, D. Fu, H. Bauman, A E. 2016, ‘Step it up: Advancing physical activity research to promote healthy aging in China’, Journal of Sport and Health Science, Vol.5(3), pages 255-257.
 Sun, J. Guo, Y. Wang, X. & Zeng, Q. 2016, ‘mHealth For Aging China: Opportunities and Challenges’, Aging Dis, vol 7, no 1, pages 1-15.
The World Bank 2016, Population ages 65 and above (% of total), Viewed 5 November 2016, < http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.65UP.TO.ZS>