two years were published. e study fo- cused on the views and perceptions of older people and PHC workers of elder abuse through focus groups held in eight coun- tries (Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Canada, India, Kenya, Lebanon and Sweden). e resulting publication “Missing voices: views of older persons on elder abuse” (WHO/ INPEA, 2002a) was considered a milestone in the field and has led to the develop- ment of further research. In November 2002, WHO, together with INPEA and academic partners, launched “e Toronto declaration for the global prevention of elder abuse” (WHO/INPEA, 2002b) at the Ontario Elder Abuse Conference. is declaration is a call for action aimed at preventing elder abuse worldwide.
Over the years, the Center for Interdisciplinary Gerontology at the University of Geneva (CIG-UNIGE) and the Policlinique de Gériatrie des Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève (POLIGER-HUG) have undertaken important research on elder abuse, such as the development of screening tools and training courses for so- cial and health workers. is seminal work has been conducted in partnership with the Internet network Vieillir en Liberté (RIFVEL; http://www.fep.umontreal. ca/violence/) for the exchange of informa- tion among French-speaking communities and in close relationship with local grass- roots organizations. Moreover, in 2004, POLIGER organized in collaboration with
A GLOBAL RESPONSE TO ELDER ABUSE AND NEGLECT
CIG and a variety of other institutions the international colloquium HEATWAVE 2004. Specialists from various domains discussed and presented their perspec- tives, interpretations and advice on elder abuse, with the purpose of coming up with a simple plan of action for future heatwaves in order to draw a lesson from summer 2003, when approximately 40 000 older people died in Europe due to neglect and inappropriate care.
e cooperation between existing public
health, social, medical and legal activities and systems needs to be improved, as they depend on each other for the prevention, detection and reduction of elder abuse. As a response, in January 2004, the WHO-CIG project “A Global Response to Elder Abuse and Neglect: Building Primary Health Care Capacity to Deal with the Problem Worldwide” was initiated.
1.3 Elder abuse and neglect and the role of PHC professionals
Since the appearance of the term “granny battering” in 1975 (Baker, 1975), physicians have generally been slow to react towards the issue of elder abuse and neglect. e paucity of research in this area has been matched by limited awareness among PHC professionals. Research on assessing in- terpersonal violence in adolescents, young adults and women is far more advanced than that on elder abuse and neglect, which are recognized as problems in need of at- tention over a longer period of time.