Two elderly women sit together on a pavement in Hà Nội.—VNS Photo Việt Thanh
HÀ NỘI — A knowledge-sharing programme to assist policy makers in Việt Nam to develop new models of care services for the elderly was co-launched by the Japan International Co-operation Agency and the World Bank on Wednesday in Hà Nội.
The programme is set to run between August, 2019 and April, 2020 while Việt Nam’s population is aging at a pace faster than any of its regional peers.
Under the programme, a seminar was held in Hà Nội on Wednesday with the participation of 40 Government officials from ministries and sectors, including the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance and the Việt Nam National Committee on Aging.
It aims to provide a better understanding of the nature of the issues and challenges of eldercare the country is facing.
At the seminar, experts from Japan and Thailand shared their experiences and lessons learnt in designing policies and institutional arrangements with proper attention to the associated fiscal impacts.
The experts said based on current demographic trends, Việt Nam’s elderly population would double from 7 per cent to 14 per cent of the total population – the threshold for a country’s population to be considered aged – in about 17 years.
In comparison, it took Singapore and Thailand 22 and 20 years, respectively, to reach this threshold. Việt Nam is projected to become an aged society in around 2035.
Statistics from the labour ministry showed that the country now has over 11 million elderly people.
According to experts, like many other countries, family members, particularly women, have been the de facto care-givers for older adults in Việt Nam. However, as the family structure evolves and the needs of elders become increasingly complex, there is an imperative for interventions to go beyond the household level to be effective.
To facilitate the transition to a new eldercare model, the country needs to address major structural bottlenecks including limited access to essential medical and social care services as well as weak collaboration across relevant sectors.
Following the seminar, there will be a study tour to Thailand to enhance learning for participants and promote South-South learning. The last phase will focus on internalising key knowledge from the study tour, synthesise this into policy recommendations and develop a service model.
Tetsuo Konaka, JICA Việt Nam Office’s Chief Representative said “We believe that by utilising experiences and lessons learned from Thailand and Japan, Việt Nam can learn how to develop and implement an effective care model for elderly people.”
“Rapid population aging in Việt Nam will have significant economic, social and fiscal implications,” said Ousmane Dione, WB Country Director for Việt Nam, adding the country needs to start preparing for an ageing society now by developing a comprehensive and financially sustainable health and social care service system that can provide the elderly with the care they need.— VNS