International workshop promoting active ageing, mental health in ASEAN underway hinh anh 1Elderly people receive health check-up in Ha Tinh province (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - An international workshop on November 18 and 19 is underway to provide a forum for foreign experts to share their experience and make recommendations on promoting active ageing and mental health in ASEAN member states.

The “International Workshop on Strengthening Stakeholders Cooperation in Promoting Active Ageing and Mental Health in ASEAN” is being co-held by the Ministry of Health, the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and the World Health Organisation (WHO), in both face-to-face and video conferencing forms. It has gathered more than 170 representatives from ASEAN member states and partners.

In his opening remarks, Deputy Minister of Health Truong Quoc Cuong said the 21st century is viewed as the century of population ageing. ASEAN has the third-largest population in the world, after only China and India. The elderly (those aged over 65) number more than 45 million people, accounting for 7 percent of the regional population. By 2030, this group of population is forecast to reach 132 million, or 16.7 percent of the bloc’s population.

Four ASEAN nations - Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia - are already considered ageing societies and expected to move to “super-aged” by 2050, Cuong said.

He went on to talk about the situation in Vietnam, saying the country entered the “ageing” phase in 2011 and remains among the most rapidly-ageing countries in the world. The elderly now account for 7.7 percent of the national population, or 7.4 million people, with over 2 million aged 80 or above.

It will take Vietnam only 20 years to move from an “ageing” society, where the over-65s make up 14 percent of the total population, to an “aged” one, where the percentage is over 14 percent, while such a transition took much longer in developed countries, such as France (115 years), Switzerland (85 years), Australia (73 years), and the US (69 years), the deputy minister noted.

Ageing-induced demographic changes have had a major impact on all socio-economic matters in each country and each society, he continued, so the workshop offers a good opportunity for ASEAN countries to seek ways to ramp up the concerted efforts of all stakeholders in enhancing care for the elderly and achieving an active ageing and healthy ASEAN Community as well as a cohesive and resilient ASEAN./.