Ho Chi Minh City's Population and Family Planning Division will next year focus on programmes for elderly people's welfare.

At a meeting held on December 25 to mark Vietnam's Population Day, December 26, To Thi Kim Hoa, the division head, said a survey is being done on senior citizens' need for counselling and care.

Welfare workers and volunteers in districts would be trained in counselling and caring skills, she said, adding p lans for a community-based elderly people's counselling and care project would be submitted to the Department of Health for approval.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Vietnam's population is ageing rapidly with the number of people over 60 accounting for 10 percent of the total due to the rising life expectancy and declining death and birth rates.

It forecasts the population to start ageing in 2017 and be aged by 2035.

In the southern hub, the rate of elderly people fell from 6.52 percent in 2006 to 6.02 per cent last year, but Hoa said it was only because the number of young immigrants has increased.

The actual number of elderly people is rising every year, and it is time for such programmes, she said, adding that t he programmes would direct the community's attention to the issue of an ageing population.

The division would work with television channels and Radio the Voice of Ho Chi Minh City People to disseminate information about them.

Besides providing care for seniors, the programmes would also help rectify the gender imbalance, strengthen prenatal and neonatal screening, and improve contraception, pre-marriage health care, and reproductive health by 2015.

The division will continue to collaborate with the Department of Health to inspect foetal ultrasound services in public and private health facilities to prevent sex selection.

Nguyen Tan Binh, the department's head, said the city this year hit the targets of reducing the crude birth rate by 0.01 per thousand, reducing the birth of third babies to less than 4 percent, and screening 32 percent of pregnant women and 64 percent of newborns.

The sex ratio for children born this year is 106 boys to 100 girls.-VNA