The UK All Party Parliamentary Group for Longevity (APPG) launched the Levelling Up Health initiative recently. The initiative aims to close the life expectancy gap, address health inequality in the UK, and foster a preventative approach to healthcare to support healthy longevity.
It is estimated that health inequality between the economically poorer north and the wealthier south of the UK costs around £13 billion (~$18 billion) per year. This can mean that people living in the most deprived areas of the UK experience chronic health conditions and age-related diseases up to 19 years sooner than those living in the most affluent areas. According to the Levelling Up Health report, 1.2 million people in the UK aged 50-64 are unemployed due to health reasons.
The APPG is working hard with the UK government and healthcare industry to close the gap in life expectancy and to promote preventative strategies to support healthy longevity. Poor health driven by bad lifestyle choices and inequality of healthcare access costs the UK a huge amount of money, damages the economy, and puts strain on the welfare state.
The APPG for Longevity launched its report, Levelling Up Health, 9th April 2021 with Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Care; Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer; and Henry Dimbleby, leading National Food Strategy, speaking at the launch of Levelling Up Health.
What has this got to do with increasing longevity?
We welcome the fact that becoming a healthier nation is now a UK government goal along with the shift towards a healthcare system that is based on prevention rather than on simply treating the already sick. While this is only indirectly related to developing technologies that target aging, it helps to pave the way for wider acceptance of them when they arrive. Therefore, having a government and healthcare industry in the UK that is open to using these technologies as part of a prevention strategy is a positive thing.
We are likely years or even decades from gaining wide societal support for the defeat of aging itself, but initiatives like this serve as useful ways to nudge society in the right direction. If more people can be convinced that health and longevity are desirable, it will not be so hard to convince them that increased longevity or perhaps even indefinite lifespans free from age-related diseases are also a good thing. This may be a small start in that direction, but at least it is a start.