Policymaking for health care for the elderly in Vietnam was discussed by domestic and foreign legal and health experts during a conference in Hanoi on May 26.

Participants focused their discussion on the challenges in caring for the aged population in Vietnam.

Deputy Director of the Health Ministry’s General Office for Population and Family Planning, Nguyen Van Tan said the ageing population is posing a challenge to Vietnam’s health sector, as healthcare services for the elderly are suffering from a number of shortcomings.

Statistics show that there were more than 8.6 million elderly people of 60 years old and above in 2011, accounting for nearly 10 percent of Vietnam’s population, while the rate of over 65-year-old was 7 percent and is predicted to rise rapidly to 14.75 percent by 2039. Older Vietnamese people mainly live in rural areas and over 70 percent of them must earn their living themselves.

According to Prof. Pham Van Thang from the National Geriatric Hospital, medical expenses for this group, which takes up to 50 percent of society’s medicine, are 7-10 times higher than those of young people. The elderly often suffer from diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer and need to be treated for the rest of their lives, he said.

Vietnam issued the Law on the Elderly in 2009 and also established the National Committee on Ageing and launched a national action programme on this group.

Participants suggested that Vietnam should set a long-term strategy to slow down the ageing population and maintain an appropriate birth rate, while diversifying healthcare services for the elderly.
France’s models for caring for the elderly in hospitals and rest-homes were also introduced at the conference.-VNA