Update: 08:26 | 02/10/2018
A more positive view towards the elderly in Vietnam is needed to turn the challenges of an aging population into opportunities, experts have suggested.
Policy makers and experts gathered at a talk show held in Hanoi on October 1 afternoon to discuss measures in response to population aging in Vietnam.
Experts at the talk show discuss challenges facing the elderly and measures to promote active aging in Vietnam. (Photo: NDO/Trung Hung).
The event, held to coincide with the International Day for Older Persons, was co-organised by the Vietnam National Committee on Ageing, the Vietnam Association of the Elderly, the General Office for Population and Family Planning, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and HelpAge.
Reports at the event showed that Vietnam officially entered the stage of an "aging population" since 2011 and is one of the fastest aging countries in the world. In 2017, the number of elderly people accounted for 11.9% of the total population, meaning one in every nine people is aged 60 or over. According to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, by 2038, people aged 60 and over are estimated to be at over 21 million, accounting for 20% of the total population.
Le Tan Dung, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, emphasized that population aging is a global trend, becoming a social issue that has a great impact on various aspects of social life.
However, the time for Vietnam to change from the "aging" population stage to the "aged" population structure would be much shorter compared to other developed countries, Dung said, for example it took Sweden 85 years, Japan 26 years, and Thailand 22 years, while only about 17-20 years are predicted for Vietnam to turned into an aged nation. Therefore, there should be appropriate policies and strategies prepared to deal with the aging issues in the future.
According to Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Quynh from UNFPA, the working-age population will begin to decline by 2038, while the elderly will increase, and this population structural change will adversely affect socio-economic development if there aren’t any proper intervention policies.
Population aging is inevitable, therefore Vietnam needs timely policy interventions to maintain a reasonable population structure. In addition, the women-dominated tendency in aging also takes place in all countries, including Vietnam, requiring taking gender into account in making policies and programmes to adapt to population aging.
Stressing the need for ending age discrimination, Country Director of HelpAge International in Vietnam, Tran Bich Thuy, urged for more drastic action to eliminate the thought that the elderly are a burden, or are passive and dependent people, as age discrimination is one of the root causes of halting active aging, which impedes the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Delegates at the forum agreed that the elderly and young people have the same values in life. Regardless of their age, the majority of the elderly are still active and look forward to contributing more to their families, communities
UNFPA Representative in Vietnam, Astrid Bant, said that as older persons can be active and forward-looking participants in society, it is important to no longer treat older people as passive recipients of social services.
As stepping towards a better future for all, “Leaving no one behind” will mean making space for the contributions of older persons, the UN official stated, calling for the promotion of the rights and ensuring the full participation of older persons to build better societies for all ages.
UNFPA Representative in Vietnam, Astrid Bant, calls for the promotion of the elderly’s rights and ensuring their full participation to build better societies for all ages. (Photo: NDO/Trung Hung).
Participants at the event discussed policy recommendations for Vietnam in dealing with the aging population, with the focus on mainstreaming population aging in the policies and indicators related to SDGs in Vietnam.
It is necessary to continue implementing and adjusting laws and policies related to the elderly to ensure a better settlement of elderly issues, as well as achieving a reasonable population size and limiting the increase in the population aging rate.
They suggested developing infrastructure and promoting social services to ensure that the elderly can participate in socio-economic activities while encouraging the replication of the elderly’s clubs and community-based care centres.
Another requirement is to increase communication to change public awareness towards the elderly and create a suitable environment for communities with a large number of elderly persons, as well as regularly educating young people to eliminate discrimination and violence against the elderly.