Accelerated aging national, that projects that one-third of the population will be over 60 by 2030, It has been tested to the authorities and researchers, those who face the challenge of making Chile a country that since the medical, the social and the political is the height of an impoverished elderly and urgent health problems. What to do?? Transdisciplinary work, meet the specialists in this field, say that the confluence of looks is the only way forward in proposals for long-term.


Chile is an old country. It sounds exaggerated, but the figures bear this out. According to the report World Population Data Sheet, prepared by the population Reference Bureau of United States and published a few days ago, by 2030 the population will reach 20 million inhabitants, of which one third will be older than 60.

This is explained by the declining birth rate (1,8 children per woman, one of the lowest in the Southern Cone) and for the improvement of sanitary conditions in our country, in a few decades it eradicated child malnutrition and dramatically decreased death due to infectious diseases. However, that dramatically increased the suffering of chronic diseases associated with old age, What, in the words of Dr. Sergio Lavandero, Director of the Center of studies advanced in diseases chronic (ACCDiS ), used to be "a heritage of those countries developed". Before one could qualify to a country as developed or underdeveloped due to the diseases that had. We had infectious diseases, We hopefully, We had malnutrition". No longer. Today the most urgent problems are rooted in diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disorders and neurodegenerative, own of a country that aging.

These latest, above all, they have had a large increase in the country. According to the first Global study of burden of disease, carried out by the Institute for the measurement and evaluation of the health of the University of Washington and the Foundation Bill and Melinda Gates, that examines the evolution of the disease in the world, Alzheimer's disease is the cause of death had more gain in Chile. In only two decades, the disease went from being the 29th cause of death to the fifth, which represents an increase of 526%.

By the way, the drama not is only medical, but also, and perhaps above all, social. The increase in diseases of this type, that can disable to the people, begins to set up a scene in which converge the lack of specialists, poverty and pension systems, transport and health, to name a few, they are not prepared for this challenge.

Alerts in Chile began in the ' 90s. In the middle of the decade the State created the National Commission for the older adult, that are developed in the More adult national service (Senama) in 2002. This also encouraged that aging began to consider more recurrent way by national researchers, eager to find solutions for a country on the other hand.

Only in the University of Chile, Gerontological studies interdisciplinary program, the Observatory Social of aging and old age in Chile and the program of studies systemic in old age and aging, to name a few, they were precursor bodies to address the issue. However, missing an effort extra.

It was for this reason that in June 2014, and at the request of the Rector Ennio Vivaldi, The University created the network transdisciplinary on aging, supported by the Vice President's Office of research and development, with a purpose clear: raise, from the public, a solution to the problems that brings the increase of the hope of life, that in our country reaches the figure more high of America Latin.

Currently, the network directed by Dr. Benjamín Suárez, academic in the Faculty of Medicine of the University, 51 professionals converge, experts and academics coming from disciplines such as nutrition, Humanities, medicine, economy, Sociology, Psychology, architecture, Science and dentistry. The union makes the force, the saying. And strength is little compared with what requires the country at the time of search solutions public chords to the challenges that today imposes the aging.

Task urgently: public policies

According to the Casen 2013, Seniors currently represent 16,7% of the population, equivalent to 2.885.157 inhabitants. The figure is high, but similar to that of developed countries. What is really worrying is the speed with which Chile has reached these numbers. While France took 115 years to double its population of adults over 65 years old (from 7% to 14%), is expected that in Chile this process take less than three decades.

This imposes a "double burden" to our country, suggest the experts. In Europe or United States, for example, first they conquered the development and then came the aging accelerated. I.e., first they solved the most pressing poverty problems and then aged. In our country we have to deal with the two problems at the same time.

"In Chile is us comes a debacle economic because we are going to fill of old", says Dr. Claudio Hetz, Member of the transdisciplinary network and Director of the laboratory of cellular stress and Biomedicine. "Is van to begin to get sick and not have a system social that is do charge of them old". Now are the same families who care for them are made, then finally you have to prepare society and the country to generate long-term policy, because this problem is around the corner".

According to Hetz, United States intended only to Alzheimer's 20% of the national budget in health, involving around 120 billion dollars. In addition, says, "when you have a patient with Alzheimer's disease", someone of the family has that leave from work to take care it, so the cost is doubled and we speak of more than 200 trillion. United States estimates that by 2050 the cost is going to be a trillion dollars". Certainly, Chile is not prepared to face such figures.

But the researchers want to fight. And together. Makes a year the University of Chile was awarded a Fondap revolutionary, called Geroscience Center for Brain Health and Metabolism, that at that time was rated by its Deputy Director, neuroscientist and acade- the Faculty of medicine, Andrea Slachevsky MICA, as "the first great effort that is done nationally to start investigating the issue of ageing and in particular in the brain".

Although the Center directed by Dr. Christian Gonzalez-Billault, of the Faculty of Sciences, has a clear medical imprint (in fact, one of their main li- NEAs of work is developing cells mother capable of generate crops neural human of patients Chilean to study to level brain the evolution of them diseases mental), their objectives go much further and seek to describe, In addition, how those aspects social affect the quality of the aging.

According to the doctor Slachevsky, who also is Vice President of the Corporation professional Alzheimer and other dementias (Coprad), This "cannot be without a transdisciplinary gaze. If one sees the careers of aging and only observed clinical variables regardless of psychosocial variables, one is going to have a very partial view of things. If one does not consider the set, This multidisciplinary, "not going to understand the problems". Social networks, labour history and exposure to stress, In addition to the cellular neurobiology, they will be elements to be analyzed in determining pathological paths associated with aging and its risk factors.

Precisely to socialize and contribute with results as that is expect of this Fondap and many other research related with the network transdisciplinary on aging, This year the University of Chile signed a protocol of cooperation with the Senama, that formalizes a working collaborative that already were performing both institutions, centered in the visibility of the issue and, by the way, in research and innovation with which the University can help the country.


Thus, the National Director of the Senama appreciates it, Ruben Valenzuela, who notes that "the scientific research carried out by this House of studies is without a doubt an input for informed decision making. I am convinced of that the coordination between our institutions will create a circle virtuous between the generation of knowledge and the relevance of them political public, "more if both processes are designed with the participation active of the people more of the country".

For Valenzuela is crucial work in joint. "When we refer to the multidimensionality of old age and the multidisciplinarity of the knowledge, the relevance of the work intersectoral and transdisciplinary is growing, due to the social demands involving the concept of the subject from its entirety".

Work of this mode is urgent, Since interconnect different disciplines to meet fully the characteristics and behavior of the population that is working allows, in the long run, a key issue: the prevention of diseases and social crises associated with them. Is simple: If detailed why something happens, is much more easy to prevent it.

That is why the Fondap Claudio Hetz and Andrea Slachevsky involving has decided to work with the concept of "gerociencia". "What the gerociencia raises is that the investment majority not have that go to the sick", because when are sick already passed what they had that pass. You enfermaste Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, and the majority of affected neurons already died. "In terms of political public it is thinking attack them stages prior to the disease", explains Hetz.

Dr. Sergio Lavandero pointed to the same, Director of the ACCDiS, a centre whose objectives is to identify the common elements linking the major chronic diseases, strongly related to aging, to develop strategies of prevention.

"Our system is more oriented to the treatment of those diseases when the person already them has". A appearance that we neglect and where we can make the difference is in the prevention, that is the cheapest and most effective", says Lavandero. The ACCDiS, managed jointly by the University of Chile and the Pontificia Catholic University of Chile, focuses on the most urgent, i.e., cardiovascular disease and cancer, they represent more than 55% of the cause of death in Chile.

Lavandero explains that "associated with these diseases there are a number of risk factors". There are some modifiable and others that not it are; for example, We cannot change our genetics, but there are other things that Yes, as the sedentary lifestyle, "those habits food".

With that in mind, You can prevent, especially in the most vulnerable population, Since as designates the specialist, "all of these diseases have a context; the impact that has does the same thing as the social stratum. "Have an impact much greater in people that are of strata socioeconomic more low".

To map this effect, the ACCDiS began the study population Mauco (Maule cohort), focused on the city of Molina, that in 10 years you will see and assess the natural history of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, whose incidence in the area is of the more high of Chile. Its more than 200 researchers have already unveiled findings related to biomarkers that may contribute to the detection of diseases such as heart failure and gastric cancer.

FLAVIO SALAZAR Vice-Rector for research and development:

The contributions that the researchers of the University of Chile are making are fundamental to addressing the issue of population ageing in our country. Link scientific excellence, It is an institutional seal, with the thematic relevance requires, in my opinion, of a joint political and academic and in that effort we found in vine. We work in a joint effort with the units, faculties and institutes, generating spaces of cooperation and dialogue that already are giving fruit.

An example is the network of aging, It brings together researchers from different disciplines, from medicine to architecture, through the social sciences and engineering. Of this form is generates a vision integrated that allows a dialogue much more productive with the agencies of the State charge of implement them political public. This was corroborated in the excellent relationship of collaboration with the Senama and dialogue with Conicyt which resulted in a new contest Fondef specific to the subject of aging. We hope that this example would be transferred to other subjects as socio-natural disasters, energy and food healthy, among others.