The business forum was co-chaired by Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) cum VCCI Director in Ho Chi Minh City Vo Tan Thanh and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative in Vietnam Naomi Kitahara.
The forum was among a series of interventions funded by the Government of Japan through the Project "Mitigating the negative impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable population groups - Ensuring National Progress to Achieve SDGs in Vietnam".
Delegates discussed the current situation of the elderly care industry, care needs and the potential of a ‘silver’ market in the new normal.
The domestic service market for the elderly is very promising with 20 million "potential customers" by 2035, according to findings released in a report on Market Outlook for Elderly Care Service in Vietnam.
The report outlines that as an extremely valuable intellectual and experience pool, the elderly are an important asset contributing to the country’s development. They also create a crucial driving force for a special emerging market, which can generate good sales, income and jobs for society.
At the event, businesses also had a straightforward dialogue with policy makers, particularly with regard to the government’s policy for the care industry.
To maximise the opportunities resulting from population aging, participants explored the trends and future prospects, including innovative solutions for the care industry to meet the needs of senior citizens, especially during the COVID-19 period.
In his opening speech, VCCI Vice Chairman Vo Tan Thanh confirmed that the forum constituted a timely intervention, especially when HCM City and other provinces and cities across the country were hardly hit by the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, causing a negative impact on the country’s socio-economic development.
Thanh highlighted the potential of elderly care in Vietnam, noting that the development of this care industry is not sufficient to meet the increasing and diversified needs of older persons.
He pointed out several factors which can hinder further development including under-developed infrastructure, the need for incentive policies to encourage the private sector to invest in and limited financial and human resources as well as unavailability of technologies.
"There are no effective service models yet which are in line with the culture of the Vietnamese people while communications strategy and activities need to be more effective to make the senior Vietnamese citizens change their attitude and practices. The business forum today is an opportunity for all the stakeholders to discuss and create a breakthrough in this important and potential industry.”, Thanh added.
Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam also echoed her co-chairman by saying that the organisation of this special forum was significant, given the fact that the participation of businesses in the care industry for older persons is limited.
“While the virus spreads among persons of all ages, older persons and those with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk of developing severe conditions and having higher death rates. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s population ageing is progressing fast and the country will transition from the “ageing” to the “aged” society by 2036. While this presents implications on the need for care and support for the elderly population, it can also present a business opportunity for the care industry”, she stressed.
“Japan shares the same trend of population aging and low fertility, and a lot of private sector businesses, many of which are very unique and innovative, have developed in the past decades to provide care and services to the elderly population. The Government of Japan is honoured to support UNFPA and VCCI to engage the businesses in dialogues with policy makers, particularly with regards to the Government’s policy for the care industry”, Minister Okabe from the Embassy of Japan to Vietnam told the forum.
The forum was wrapped up with recommendations for next steps to ensure that older persons must be a priority in Vietnam’s efforts to overcome COVID-19 and that no one is left behind in humanitarian response as well as in development effort.