Rapid drops in both birth and death rates, combined with a much longer life expectancy, have created a new set of challenges for Vietnam as its inadequate healthcare and welfare systems are failing to catch up with an aging population, officials said.
They warned at a recent conference that Vietnam’s population is aging faster than the world’s average speed. It is set to become an "aged" nation within the next two decades and a "super-aged" country in 2050.
A "super-aged" country is defined as one with one fifth of its population above the age of 60.
Doctor Mai Xuan Phuong from the General Department of Population and Family Planning said Vietnam’s life expectancy has increased 33 years to 73 over the past 50 years, much faster than the global average increase of 21 years.
|Most old people in Vietnam suffer from chronic diseases and only half can afford medical treatment. Photo credit: VnExpress
Phuong said, as cited by news website VnExpress, that longevity is a “great achievement,” but it can pose certain challenges.
There is now a heavy burden on healthcare, considering that around 95% of old people in Vietnam are suffering from chronic diseases, he said.
Statistics showed that more than 70% of elderly people have to work and depend on extra support from their children. Only 25.5% live on pension or social support.
Many old people in Vietnam depend on income from their family’s agriculture activities but that has been threatened by urbanization and industrial development taking up farmland.
“The healthcare and social welfare systems have not met the demand,” Phuong said. “Besides, not many old people understand their social welfare rights.”
He said half of the elderly population cannot afford medical costs for their health conditions and around 30% are not covered by any health insurance, he said.
Phuong said elderly people in Vietnam also face the problem of having to deal with the common mindset that they are social burden.
“Old people need to be given opportunities to contribute to social development and get a fair share. We need long-term strategies to slow down the aging of the population and to expand and diverse healthcare services for old people,” the doctor said.