Vietnam population ageing rapidly: conference

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Local and foreign experts told at a recent conference in Hanoi that the Vietnamese population is ageing rapidly and the government needs better plans to cope with the consequences.

Vietnam News Agency quoted a 2011 survey by the General Office for Population and Family Planning as saying that the elderly population was growing "more quickly" than any other demographic.

This resulted in a rapidly increasing ageing index, defined as the number of people aged 65 and over per 100 youths under age 15, according to the survey reported at the conference.

Vietnam would also transit from being an "ageing" to an "aged" population quicker than Vietnam's economy and government programs would be able to adapt, it concluded.

The Vietnam National Aging Survey, conducted last year, showed that 39 percent of Vietnamese people over 65 were still working, mostly in agricultural sectors with low and unstable incomes.

It also revealed that 17 percent of the working elderly were poor, noting that the older people were, the more possibility they had of living in poverty. It added that women were more prone to poverty than men.

Speaking at the conference, Bruce Campbell, the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF)'s representative in Vietnam, said the country was in the middle of a key phrase where death and birth rates were decreasing, while life expectancy was increasing.

Therefore, the country needed to introduce practical and stable policies and strategies that could help its elderly population join social, cultural and economical activities, he said.

National policies also needed to guarantee accesses to basic and affordable social services, including health care, among people, according to Campbell.

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Nguyen Trong Dam, deputy minister of social affairs, and a member of the national committee on the elderly, also warned that the number of elderly people would continue increasing rapidly in the future, so Vietnam needed policies that could take better care of the elderly.

Vietnam News Agency reported that soon-to-be approved national strategies regarding old people would make the elderly population the focus of governmental policies and projects.

Vietnam's national committee on the elderly held the conference on Friday in cooperation with the UNFPA and the NGO HelpAge International Vietnam.

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