As the world sets out an inspirational new development agenda and commits to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals, Vietnam should envision a new model that addresses demographic ageing with economic and social growth and protects the elderly population’s rights.
So said Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Thi Ha at a conference in Ha Noi on Friday.
The conference was held to release a new report: “Towards a comprehensive national policy for an ageing Vietnam”.
The report, published by the Vietnam National Committee on Ageing and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Vietnam, analyses population ageing in Vietnam and its impacts and provides policy suggestions for responding to the demographic trend.
The report focuses on trends in fertility and mortality, both past and projected, their impact on ageing, the increasing significance of older people in society and emerging issues caused by the trend. It reviews the actions the Government has been taking and draws lessons from other countries to give recommendations on how to address ageing-related issues through a comprehensive approach and policies.
The latest statistics of the Department of Social Assistance under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs showed that Vietnam now has about 11.3 million old people, 350,000 of whom are over 90 years old and 1.8 million over 80 years old.
The average lifespan is 74, and 70 per cent of old people live in rural areas.
Vietnam has a rapidly ageing population. By 2030, it is estimated that people over the age of 65 will make up 12 per cent of the total population.
Speaking at the conference, Pham Thi Hai Chuyen, chairwoman of the Vietnam Association for the Elderly and deputy chairwoman of the Vietnam National Committee on Ageing, said population ageing is a global trend having an effect on the politics, economy, society and culture of countries around the world.
An overall policy is needed to resolve issues related to ageing that is compatible with socio-economic development plans, she said.
Deputy Minister Ha said that, with technical support from the UNFPA, concerned organisations should set up detailed programmes for the elderly that include social welfare, health care and friendly living environments.
At the conference, experts agreed Vietnam needs policies to create conditions for the elderly to work and implement the United Nations’ message “to retire but not to rest”.
The experts proposed completing policies that encourage enterprises, organisations and the community to join in taking care of the elderly for the good of the State and society.
Policies related to social insurance should be changed to give priority to the elderly living in poor remote mountainous areas or on islands.
At present, 96 per cent of old people across the country have health insurance cards, nearly 100 hospitals of central and provincial level have geriatric ward with a total of more than 8,000 beds.
The Vietnam Association for the Elderly launched activities including an action month for the elderly and programmes to honour village patriarchs contributing to the nation’s protection.
Astrid Bant, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam, said that as we stepped towards a better future, ‘leaving no one behind’ would mean making space for the contributions of older people.
“Let’s promote the rights and ensure the full participation of older persons to build better societies for all ages,” she said. “I believe that by joining forces and working together, we truly can make a difference and help promote meaningful responses to population ageing – responses based on values of non-discrimination and equality that advance the vision of a vigorous, happy and healthy old age.”