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Political Struggle against the Disease of Aging
Ilia Stambler   Jul 17, 2012   Singulariut  

Israeli life-extension activists send proposal to 120 members of Knesset; they want a government agency established to combat death and aging. 

Mr. Oded Carmeli and myself are presently promoting our Law Proposal for the Establishment of the Israeli National Advisory Committee for the Struggle against the Disease of Aging. I include the content part of our proposal below (the part concerning administrative details is omitted), in the hope that it will encourage similar political activities for life-extension in other places.

This proposal was sent to all the 120 members of the Israeli Parliament - the Knesset, in the hope to provoke some consideration of the subject of aging and life-extension. So far (and quite expectedly) the proposal has been either ignored or the responses were unsupportive, not because of any particular opposition to any actions that we propose (in fact, no criticisms of the proposed measures were mentioned), but simply because of the expressed firm belief that “aging is not a disease” (and logically, the struggle with it would be unnecessary). Quite frankly, I am surprised we received any response at all. Still, if our proposal induced even a moment of pause to consider the issue, it was all worth it. 

Here the text is included for the further consideration by the transhumanist community. So far, even the support of the transhumanist community (in Israel and elsewhere) has been minimal, and not only because of the generally low communal involvement of transhumanists, or because projects like ours now count by the dozens, but perhaps also and mainly because of the clearly observed and strongly expressed reluctance of many transhumanists (particularly in the US) “to have anything to do with the government.” I believe such a position is short-sighted, as it dismisses out of hand a large and potentially very influential venue in the struggle for life-extension.

So here it is, hoping for more actions to come.

Special thanks to Mr. Oded Carmeli, the editor of the journal Let Us From Now On, for initiating the idea, as well as Mr. Nimrod Barnea, presidium member of the International Union of Socialist Youth, and Dr. Daria Khaltourina, co-chairman of the Russian Coalition for Alcohol Control and the Russian Coalition for Tobacco Control, and a member of the Russian Transhumanist Movement, for their invaluable support and advice!

The full version of the proposal can be found at the site of Humanity + Israel.

http://www.singulariut.com/2012/07/601

Knesset 18
Law Proposal for the Establishment of the National Advisory Committee for the Struggle against the Disease of Aging

Rationale

Aging is the root of most chronic diseases afflicting the developed world generally and Israel in particular.

Aging is a disease according to every definition of disease, whether the definition is metabolic, nosological, or epidemiological. It is a disease causing the largest proportion of disability and mortality, and should be treated accordingly.

The death rate in Israel is approximately 0.52%, out of which over 90% die as a result of the disease of aging and its derivatives. In other words, each year approximately 40,000 residents of Israel die from aging, twice the number of all the casualties of war throughout the country’s history, and twice the number of all deaths from traffic accidents throughout the country’s history.

According to the report of the Bank of Israel, published in March 2012, both the private and public national expenditures on the senescent population in Israel (persons over 65 years old, comprising about 10% of the country’s population) is NIS 9.9 billion (~$ 2.5 billion) yearly, which comprises 1.2% of the entire Gross Domestic Product.

Medical research in Israel and other developed countries focuses on the symptoms of the disease of aging and not on its prevention. Despite their immediate importance, palliative measures, such as increasing nursing care, will not resolve the economic burden and human suffering caused by the disease of aging, but will only slightly relieve and postpone them.

While aging, that is, the gradual impairment of metabolic balance, is a disease which requires treatment; the rise in healthy life-expectancy in the developed world is its cure. The trends of increasing healthy life-expectancy, as well as the results of basic research on aging, indicate the practical possibility of treating the disease of aging and the chronic diseases derived from it. This positive process can be reinforced and accelerated for the long term by regulated investment in basic and applied research, as well as in technological, industrial and environmental development directed toward treatment for the disease of aging. These measures will reduce the burden of the disease of aging on Israeli economy and will alleviate the suffering of the aged and the grief of their close ones.

In view of this and in accordance to the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, and in accordance to the Jewish principle: “Do not reject a soul for another soul,” aging must be declared a disease, which necessitates the establishment of the National Advisory and Coordinating Committee for the Struggle against the Disease of Aging.


Part A. Commentary
1. Definitions

“Minister” – Prime Minister.
“Committee” – The National Advisory Committee for the Struggle against the Disease of Aging.
“Disease of Aging” – Accumulation of damage and impairment of metabolic balance, causing an increase in functional disability, suffering and mortality, in advanced age.
“Struggle against the Disease of Aging” – Research, development, treatment and education directed toward reducing the damage caused by aging.


Part B. The National Advisory Committee

Section A. The Establishment of the Committee and it Functions

2. The establishment of the committee

Hereby the National Advisory Committee for the Struggle against the Disease of Aging is established.

3. The committee as a corporate entity

The committee is a corporate entity

4. The community as a regulated body

The committee is a regulated body as defined in paragraph 9(6) of the State Controller Law of 1958 (consolidated version).

5. The committee functions:

a. The committee will determine the policy for research, development and education for the struggle against the disease of aging, so it shall become the basis for the committee activity and the government activity in this area. In case the committee determines a policy on a subject within the area of its function, the head of the committee will submit it for the government approval upon a request by the committee.

b. Without detracting from the general statement in paragraph (a), the committee functions will include the following:

1. Formulating policy and acting to promote cooperation between governmental departments, national and international research institutes and other organizations active in the field of the struggle against the disease of aging;

2. Providing long-term planning for the implications of an increase in life-expectancy in Israel;

3. Acting for the establishment, development, management and maintenance of appropriate frameworks, services and programs, for the research and treatment of the disease of aging, in cooperation with relevant governmental departments.

These include:

- Providing research grants and scholarships in the field of the struggle against the disease of aging, particularly in the fields of regenerative medicine, nano-medicine, bio-gerontology and optimal hygienic life-style for aging persons;

- Encouraging investments in biotechnology and medical technology companies, as well as in academic and public organizations for research, development and application – that will be involved in the treatment of the disease of aging and its derivative chronic diseases.

4. Acting for the expansion of education and raising public awareness about the disease of aging and about scientific developments for the struggle against it.

These include:

- Encouraging the collection of up-to-date, evidential scientific information regarding the optimal hygienic life-style for aging persons and providing education on the subject to the health care community and the wide public.

- Acting to create academic and communal leraning frameworks and programs on the subject of the struggle against the disease of aging, including its research and application aspects;

5. Assisting governmental and local services in providing consultation and direction for the treatment of the aged in Israel.


Section B. The committee council

6. The committee council

a. The committee will have a council including 22 members who will be appointed by the minister, subject to approval by the government. The appointment announcement will be published on record.

b. The council will include the following members:

1. A representative worker of each of the following government departments: the office of the prime minister, the ministry of interior, the ministry of health, the ministry of finance, the ministry of education, the ministry for senior citizens, and the ministry of science and technology;

2. A representative of each of the following organizations: the Council for Higher Education; the Israeli Medical Association; the National Council for Research and Development; the Office of the Chief Scientist;

3. An expert in each of the following fields: bio-gerontology; geriatrics; biotechnology; medical technology; social work; financial planning; science, technology and society – who will be appointed by the minister, on the recommendation of heads of relevant Israeli academic institutions.

4. Four representatives of the public active in the area of the struggle against the disease of aging who will be appointed by the minister and on the recommendation of the rest of the council consisting of the representatives of the government departments, the public organizations and academic institutions.

c. Upon request of the minister, the council is entitled to invite to its meetings an additional functionary as a constant participant.

d. The council is entitled to invite to its meetings an additional functionary as a constant participant on the recommendation of a sub-committee consisting of a least three members of the council, including representatives of government departments, public organizations and academic institutions.

…….

Section G. Amendments to Other Laws.

1. The Public Health Ordinance. Addition of Part 7.

After Part 6 “Directives for the Struggle against the Disease of Malaria,” there will appear Part 7 “National Advisory Committee for the Struggle against the Disease of Aging.”

In this part, it will be written:

“1. The National Advisory Committee for the Struggle against the Disease of Aging will supply continuous directives and updates to the health care community and the senior citizens community regarding the currently available means to reduce the damage of aging and prolong the healthy and active life for the aged population. This will be done according to the law for the establishment of the National Advisory Committee for the Struggle against the Disease of Aging.

2. The National Advisory Committee for the Struggle against the Disease of Aging shall act to promote research, development, treatment and education in order to reduce the damage caused by the disease of aging and the chronic diseases which accompany it and derive from it, such as cancer disease, heart disease and diabetes, and any additional age-related metabolic disease.”

2. The Equality for People With Disabilities Law, 1998. Amendment to Chapter A:
Fundamental Principles 2.

After the sentence “The purpose of this law is to protect the dignity and liberty of a person with a disability,” there will appear “produced by any cause whatsoever, including aging.”

That is to say, in this chapter, it will be written:

“The purpose of this law is to protect the dignity and liberty of a person with a disability, produced by any cause whatsoever, including aging, and uphold his/her right to participate equally and actively in the society in every aspect of life, as well as to provide a worthy solution for his/her special needs in such a way that will allow him/her to live the life with maximal independence, privacy and dignity, while fully fulfilling one’s capabilities.”

3. The National Health Insurance Law, 1994. Amendment to “Section 3. The right to health care services. D”

After “health services” there will appear “and services for the extension of active life.”

That is to say, in this section, it will be written:

“D. Health services and services for the extension of active life, included in the basket of health services, will be granted in Israel according to the medical judgment, with a reasonable quality, within a reasonable time, and at a reasonable distance from the residence place of the insured – all within the framework of the financing sources available to the Health Maintenance Organizations according to section 13.”

4. The Good Samaritan Law (“Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor”), 1998. Amendment to Section 1a.

After “1a. A person must provide help to a person found in front of him, due to a sudden event” it will be written “disease, exhaustion or accident,”

That is to say, in this section, it will be written:

”A person must provide help to a person found in front of him, due to a sudden event, disease, exhaustion or accident, in a situation of grave and immediate danger to his/her life, to the integrity of his/her body or his/her health, when it is within the person’s reach to offer help, without endangering oneself or others.”


Image Below: Photograph by Aner Galem, of Oded Carmeli and Ilia Stambler in front of paintings by Marc Chagall.

Ilia Stambler is an IEET Affiliate Scholar. He completed his PhD degree at the Department of Science, Technology and Society, Bar-Ilan University. His thesis subject, and his main interest, is the History of Life-extensionism in the 20th Century.”



COMMENTS

It’s for this very reason that it’s counterproductive to present aging as a ‘disease’ to be cured.

However, a broken arm isn’t a disease either, but we have no qualms about medical treatment of that condition…aging should be viewed more nearly in that light.

Pointing out that not even a single, major age-related disease can be cured despite decades of research and astronomical amounts of funding should shock these people into looking at what has gone wrong and what can be done to significantly speed up research aimed at curing age-related diseases instead of treatments designed to merely delay disease progression.

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