Vietnam needs to turn challenges of population aging into opportunities: Expert
|Vietnam urged to turn challenges of Population aging into opportunities: Providing health care services for the elderly. (Photo: VNA)
According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Vietnam is one of the countries with the fastest population aging pace in the world. Many experts held that the situation is affecting the majority of areas of the social life.
Data from the General Statistics Office (GSO), Vietnam officially entered the population aging period in 2011 when the ratio of senior citizens from the age of 65 and above was 7%.
Dr. Pham Vu Hoang, Vice Director of the General Office for Population and Family Planning under the Ministry of Health, said that in Vietnam, the population aging is happening much faster than population growth. The population aging is accompanied by an increased need to continue working, but it has yet to be associated with improving the health of the elderly, he said.
Dr. Hoang held that challenges from the population aging in Vietnam includes the reduction in productivity and economic growth, the ensuring of income for the elderly and social inequality.
The population aging means an increase in the demand for health care services, putting great pressure on the nation's medical and public health care systems, he said, noting that the average cost of health care services for an elderly person is 7-8 times higher than the average cost for a young person.
Therefore, he underlined that policy makers should consider tasks, solutions and conditions to adapt to the aging population, preparing for an aging society in terms of policy, law, physical, technical and mindset aspects.
It is necessary to consider the elderly as a population group that plays an important role and contributes to the country's socio-economic development, and as a support for the young generation, he said.
Experts held that in the time to come, the country should optimise opportunities from the population aging, as it is not only happening in Vietnam but the whole world. It is crucial to place challenges from the issue in the same position as opportunities it brings, they said.
At the same time, they pointed to the need to ensure income for the elderly by creating suitable jobs for them, while building a strong pension fund.
For a developing country like Vietnam where a large number of labourers are working in the informal sector, it is necessary to focus on expanding the coverage of social security and pension support among the elderly, ensuring that senior citizens access basic social and healthcare services.
Alongside, the country should complete its health care system and build a friendly living environment for the elderly, while increasing training for medical staff in caring for them, and calling for the engagement of the private sector in providing medical and cultural services for the elderly, they said.
Population experts said that the aging population will also bring new opportunities by forming new markets.
They also stressed the need for Vietnam to firmly maintain a replacement fertility rate to ensure balance among groups of ages, stabilising workforce and slowing down the transition from the population aging period to old population stage, thus making more time to develop social security and health care services for the elderly.