Most people currently are spending the last decades of their lives in ill-health, fighting multiple chronic conditions. By now most people realise and experience first-hand during their lives, that biological ageing is responsible for majority of chronic diseases and deaths these days.
Time is not working for us and current political times are working against us.
But there’s an upside. We can fix both, prioritise health and healthy longevity as top political goals.
Why is this possible?
A scientific breakthrough has been reached in the last decades in terms of understanding the major molecular and cellular processes behind biological ageing. Treatments/interventions are currently under development to counteract these separate processes, one by one, or even better, combined to act on multiple processes at the same time. What this means is that we should be on our way to increase our healthy lifespan to minimise age-associated functional decline and to harness the longevity dividend. We are talking about extra healthy decades of life. But we are not fast enough.
The science and technology trajectory is there, but the politics is missing. In order to accelerate biomedicine, this innovation should be enabled further by political innovation.
The main question: What can we do in the European Union to advance healthy longevity for all?
Points of my political agenda, a starter kit to discuss:
- Provide 30 billion euros, yearly, out of the EU budget, to develop effective medicines against age-associated diseases based on the new paradigm addressing the root processes of biological ageing. This would cover setting up new institutions (see next point), new consortium projects, additional academic education, all resources channeled into the part of biomedical and associated technological (eg. machine learning) research. For comparison, the yearly EU budget was 160 billion euros in 2018 and the yearly budget for the US NIH is ~33 billion euros in 2018. And the US has ~200 million less people than the EU combined.
- Set up a coordinated European Institute for Healthy Longevity Research, present in every member countries and ready to be active part of the relevant international projects.
- Transparent, dynamic, enabling regulation. In order to be able to counteract and delay the hallmark processes of biological ageing starting to accumulate throughout life and accelerate in middle life, a new kind of regulation is needed to enable the paradigm shift in biomedicine. Within the European Union the European Medicines Agency should play a central role in enabling progress on focusing healthy longevity. A separate Committee should be set up to assist in the implementation of new legislation.
- Accessible longevity education programmes for everybody, outside academia, reaching all ages to learn about biological ageing and the advances towards healthy longevity.
There are not many pan-European, truly global issues, but this is one of them. Global warming, tackling climate change is another prime global issue, but it is already covered by mainstream political agenda and parties with a good reason. But the ‘melting’ of our bodies on the inside due to biological ageing and what can we do to counteract it is not prioritised by mainstream political actors.
There’s already a cross-European alliance forming around healthy longevity, the German Party fo Health Research eg. is an ally here, even our first point was harmonised.
The science and technology trajectory is there, but the politics is missing.
Currently everybody is a loser in terms of what’s possible concerning healthy longevity. Rich and poor, old, middle aged and young.
As a philosopher I’d like to ask you to do a thought experiment just like I have done it and assess yourself: living longer & healthier would lead to a more democratic, more equal, more liberal, more diverse, more eco-friendly and more peaceful world.
The health of the planet and the economy should be backed up by robust individual health. If you vote for me, I am going to be in a position to unite us in enabling biomedicine to provide more healthy life to flourish for current, and, even more so, for future generations.