Dr Bùi Sỹ Lợi Vice-chairman of the National Assembly Committee on Social Affairs. — Photo vietnamnet
Dr Bùi Sỹ Lợi, Vice-chairman of the National Assembly Committee on Social Affairs, spoke to the newspaper Thế giới & Việt Nam (World & Việt Nam Affairs) on what Việt Nam should do to make the best use of its ageing population.
How do you respond to a study by the IMF saying that Asian countries, particularly those with average incomes, will face a lot of difficulties in coping with their fast growing aged population?
I can’t agree more and Việt Nam is no exception. In my opinion, if Việt Nam has failed to utilise the advantages of its golden population.
Quite a few Asian nations, including South Korea, China and Japan, have adopted special policies to cope with the issue. For example, China has switched its family planning model to a population and development programme. In Japan, instead of sending their elderly people to age home centres, now many families now give them care in their own homes.
The Singapore Government has adopted a policy to financially assist the elderly buy apartments close to their children. In addition, it has also extended financial support to young couples to find apartments close to their parents. Generally speaking, many countries have tried to make the best use of the “golden age population” in the course of sustainable development.
What are the challenges and opportunities presented to Việt Nam by the fast growing of the golden age population?
In 2016, Việt Nam’s population was about 93 million. The average longevity of Vietnamese people is 73.4 (for men, it is 70.8 and women,s 76.1 years).
Việt Nam is one of the most rapidly ageing nations in the world. In 2011, about 10.2 per cent of its population were above 60 years old. It is projected that by 2038, people aged from 60 upwards will account for about 20.1 per cent of the population. The figure is expected to rise to 26 per cent by 2050.
For the Vietnamese elderly, communicable diseases and chronic diseases are the concern. A recent study shows that the average annual medical cost for old people is between seven and eight times higher than that for a child.
It is undeniable that health risks of the elderly multiply with age. The challenge is for the country to adopt various approaches concerning healthcare policy and the retirement age. All in all, we need a good social environment and understanding between people from different generations.
What should Việt Nam do to respond to its fast growing age population?
In my opinion, a key issue in the population activities is to do two things at the same time – improve population quality while maintaining the balance in the Total Fertility Rate (TFR).
To achieve that goal, in my opinion, Việt Nam should do five things;
First, preventive medicines and gender balance should be given special attention;
Second, healthcare should be prioritised through mass communication and education programmes;
Third, social security network should be spread nationwide and its financial investment should tally with national economic development and growth;
Fourth, tapping the best use of the expertie old people , this is a foundation to calculate their pension when they retire.
Fifth, having a good plan to give the best care, materially and spiritually, to the elderly
And finally all policies relating to the elderly should be reflected in the law.
What lessons has Việt Nam learned from other countries?
Population quality and development are the two faces of a coin. The population is both the target and the motivation for the national development.
For our country, in my opinion, now we should pay more attention to the quality of the population than its quantity. In other words, instead of focusing on the work of family planning, we should focus on adopting a comprehensive plan which covers the scope, structure, distribution and quality of the population.
It is time for Việt Nam to adopt a multi-dimensional approach. Any adjustments in its policies on population and development should be analysed carefully. — VNS