Jan 18, 2021 / 14:48

Vietnam needs to ensure uninterrupted care for elderly in pandemic: UNFPA

The Hanoitimes - Older persons aged 65 and above account for 7.7% of Vietnam's total population.

Vietnam needs to prepare well for uninterrupted care and social security for the elderly to protect them from the pandemic, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Vietnam has said.

 Older persons in Vietnam. Photo: HelpAge International

With the number of older persons aged 65 and above accounting for 7.7% of the total population, the country needs to pay special attention to those elderly living alone, those in facilities, and those with disabilities, said UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency.

With an effort to respond to the rights and needs of older persons, that is concided with the UNFPA Covid-19 Global Response Plan to leave no one behind, the agency has provided personal protective equipment (PPE) and hygiene items to protect Vietnam’s older people who are at risk of severe conditions and higher death rates from Covid-19.

The equipment will be distributed to social protection centers and community caregivers in high-risk cities and provinces namely Hanoi, Hai Duong, Danang and Quang Nam.

Ms. Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam handed over the equipment to representatives of the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and representatives from the Vietnam Association of the Elderly (VAE) and HelpAge International in Vietnam to support caregivers and social care workers providing services to older persons.

Covid-19 has been devastating effects on older people and putting a spotlight on the health and rights of older persons in society. Older persons living in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, must be fully protected from the infection and adverse outcomes of Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the elderly who live alone may face barriers to obtaining accurate information, food, medication, and other essential supplies during quarantine conditions and community outreach is required.

 Ms. Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam. Photo: UNFPA Vietnam

“Covid-19 is giving us excruciating challenges by amplifying the vulnerabilities of old people. It is clear that the fatality rate for older people is higher, and for those above age 80, it is five times higher than the global average. Therefore, older people must be a priority in dealing with Covid-19 to ensure no one is left behind in humanitarian response as well as in development effort,” Ms. Naomi Kitahara said at the handover ceremony last week.

Situation of older people

As one of the fastest aging countries in the world, the number of older people in Vietnam is increasing while the birthrate has dropped, accelerating the rate of population aging.

According to HelpAge International, the number of people 60 years and over in Vietnam will more than double from 11.9 million to 29 million people by 2050, making up almost a third of the total population. The number of people over 80 will also triple to almost 6% of the population.

Regarding demographic characteristics, almost all older persons in Vietnam have married but around 40% of them are widowed. Gender imbalance is more pronounced in older age groups.

In a latest move, the government targets that all the elderly will have health insurance card by 2021.