Until September 30th, the World Health Organization (WHO) is accepting commentary on their position regarding aging research via an online form: anyone can participate, and those involved in research and development in the field are encouraged to do so. You might recall that their past positions on this topic have been almost comically terrible, omitting any mention of ongoing efforts to treat aging as a medical condition, either slowing it down or SENS-like approaches to repair the causes of aging. Their policy was stuck in the era of aging as an inevitable fact of like, written in stone and to be suffered rather than addressed.
Insofar as the WHO sets standards for medicine, such as via the Classification of Diseases, and influences the positions taken by government bodies, those in the research community who depend upon public funding have an incentive to try to shift the bounds of the system. That said, producing large degrees of change from within any large institution, playing by their rules in order to change those rules, is a long, painful, and expensive process in comparison to the efforts needed to become a successful revolutionary working outside the system, making the system irrelevant - which is why I've never favored the former of the two options. That is my opinion, and obviously others feel differently. For those wishing to help create change in the WHO, the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF) volunteers have put together an article outlining how best to offer commentary:
Very recently, the World Health Organization, which is essentially the United Nations' agency for coordinating international health-related efforts, has launched The Global Online Consultation on Research Priority Setting for Healthy Aging. A corresponding survey is available on the WHO website and can be filled until September 30. As the WHO is the main source of policy recommendations for the UN member states, its position can significantly influence the allocation of state funding to different areas of scientific research. This is why we at LEAF urge you to step in and fill out the WHO survey; our community needs to demand more focused efforts to understand the basic mechanisms of aging, to develop innovative therapies to address these mechanisms, and to remove the barriers delaying the implementation of rejuvenation technologies into clinical practice.
While UN and WHO strategic documents, such as the world report on ageing and health (2015), the global strategy and action plan on ageing and health (2016) and the new set of Sustainable Development Goals include some provisions to encourage scientific research and development of new medicines, studies on biological aging and development of rejuvenation biotechnologies have never been made one of the main priorities. Furthermore, the application of medical technologies able to slow down, postpone and reverse the main mechanisms of aging has not been considered a viable approach to cope with the growing morbidity of age-related diseases provoked by rapid population aging. Instead, the main measures suggested to prepare our society to these demographic changes are to stimulate the birthrate while adapting healthcare systems and transforming living environments to become more age-friendly.
Even though studies on aging have a long history, there have been very recent breakthroughs, such as senolytics, Yamanaka factors, and gene therapies to extend telomeres. Due to remarkable progress in taming several hallmarks of aging, we might see the first powerful rejuvenation therapies enter the market in the next five years. The more prepared our society will be to support their development and implementation, the better. The most efficient way to accomplish this is to make an opinion leader like WHO accumulate the corresponding data faster and to form an official position that will be delivered right to the heads of the ministries of health and science around the globe.
We encourage every member of our community to fill out the form - you don't need a background in science for your response to be taken seriously. This is an open consultation, a disseminated "think tank" to provide the working group at WHO with a spectrum of ideas. If our opinion is represented in a significant share of surveys, we shall see it appear in the resulting WHO recommendations. The input of our community here could be vital, shifting the focus of research towards fundamental and translational gerontology and true control of the aging process for decades to come. LEAF volunteers have prepared a series of answers to inspire your own response to the different questions presented in the form.