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Ageing population to stretch health services

Update: September, 29/2012 - 09:15


Elderly people are taken care of at the Da Nang Sanatorium Hospital. The country's ageing population poses challenges to its future. — VNA/VNS Photo Tran Le Lam
HA NOI (VNS)— Viet Nam's rapidly ageing population is providing challenges to the country's future development and elderly people require more support, a workshop in Ha Noi heard yesterday.

The Viet Nam National Ageing Survey revealed that in 2011 the country had 8.1 million people aged 60 or over, and the number would double by 2019. This figure has risen more rapidly than in any other population group according to data from a national population change survey also conducted last year. Worryingly for policy makers, the potential support ratio for the elderly is significantly decreasing.

A number of experts gathered to discuss the issues resulting from this trend at Friday's workshop titled ‘Older persons in Viet Nam: Opportunities, Challenges and the Way Forward.' The event was organised by a number of Vietnamese organisations supporting the elderly, along with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). "Viet Nam is at a pivotal moment in its demographic history, as fertility and mortality decline while life expectancy continues to rise," said UNFPA Representative in Viet Nam Bruce Campbell at the workshop.

"In the coming years, the number of older people will continue to increase, so Viet Nam needs to have better policies for taking care of the elderly," said Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Trong Dam.

Campbell agreed that a policy rethink is required. "At this juncture, sound evidence based policies and strategies should focus on practical and sustainable initiatives to keep the older population actively engaged in social, cultural, physical and economically productive activity," he said. Damning statistics show that currently only 6 per cent of elderly people in Viet Nam have good health and a half of the total figure are without any form of health insurance. Research also shows that 39 per cent of the elderly are still working, with females in rural areas working more than their urban and male counterparts.

In addition to new policies supporting the elderly, experts have also indicated that investment in health, education and employment opportunities for young people is important when catering for the needs of future elderly generations.

Despite the problems the changing demographic trend is causing, it has been recognised as one of Viet Nam's greatest achievements, as it shows significant improvements in health, nutrition and overall socio-economic development in the country. — VNS

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