Under the new Rector Martin Bareš, Masaryk University has vowed to direct its research toward finding solutions to imminent and potential problems related to population ageing.
This is a phenomenon that can be seen across both the Czech Republic and Europe. The university aims to respond to the needs of “society 4.0” and tackle the issues brought about by the fourth industrial revolution and the negative demographic trends that affect almost all areas of life and society.
“The demographic charts clearly show that our population is getting older. At the same time, studies show that even at an advanced age and despite potential health limitations, an increasing number of elderly people wish to remain active and live at home rather than move into specialised facilities,” says MU Rector Martin Bareš.
In his opinion, what society needs are smart solutions that will allow elderly people – and others – to live a healthier life while putting digitisation and artificial intelligence to good use in providing care in people’s homes, rather than massive projects to build elderly care facilities. The utilisation of information technology in caring for the elderly will be one of the key topics.
“We need multidisciplinary research to tackle the changes in the age structure of the population and in social needs. Potential applications include eHealth and telemonitoring, which is the use of technology to monitor health indicators at a distance. Other important aspects include removing the inequalities and barriers to accessing and utilising modern technologies,” says Andrea Pokorná, a vice-dean at the MU Faculty of Medicine.
“The challenges caused by population ageing are complex and Czech society needs to respond to the social and health issues as well as the economic ones, which include the pension scheme system,” says Bareš when explaining why a multidisciplinary approach bringing together experts on life sciences, social sciences and humanities is required. MUNI experts will study the healthcare potential of IT and the overall process of digitisation in medicine and other fields and will help design public policies that focus on the sustainability of healthcare and social and pension funding.
In tackling the challenges presented by healthy ageing, Rector Bareš would like to step up cooperation with individual healthcare facilities, the city of Brno and the wider South Moravian Region, government institutions and central government authorities. The university is committed to becoming a national leader in health ageing innovations and greater involvement in the process of drafting strategic policies.