The productive and positive sides of ageing discussed in Vietnam

Prakash Tyagi, CNS Correspondent, India
Help Age International Asia Pacific Regional Office, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Government of Vietnam, Asian Forum of Parliamentarians for Population and Development (AFPPD) and World Health Organization (WHO) along with a number of other organizations and network partners organized a regional conference on ageing and associated aspects.

Held in Hanoi, Vietnam, in the first week of September 2016, the conference gathered over 300 academicians, experts, physicians, practitioners and policy makers from over 36 countries. “Ageing is a serious development challenge for many countries, including Vietnam “quoted the Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam inaugurating the conference. The conference was themed as Economic Implications of Ageing— an aspect of ageing which is almost always discussed in negative terms with loss of productivity and cost burdens. “Time has come to turn the tides around to look at the contributions aged populations make”, hoped Eduardo Klein, Help Age Asia Pacific Regional Director. While the momentum of advocacy has gained pace in recent years for supporting age-friendly development policies and funding, there is still a long way to go. With Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) finally acknowledging ageing as a key priority, it is time for action.

The conference discoursed ageing aspects under four major areas of concern and future actions including the workforce, health, incomes and markets. The key priorities that emerged from the discussions were training and capacity building related activities for workforce development, long term care and its importance, and sustained advocacy on looking at older people as a valuable resource and not as a burden. Vietnam has done some excellent work on organizing older people in inter-generational clubs and self help groups focusing especially on older women. The energy and learning at ground level work in Vietnam are very positive and an important take-away message for many participants of the conference. The active participation of AFPPD and presence of many parliamentarians representing different governments was also very heartening, and raised the hope of positive actions on ageing in countries of this region.

With SDGs mentioning ageing, with WHO’s World Report on Ageing ready to transform plans into action, and with the demographic changes that are being witnessed in the Asia Pacific Region, ageing will be a key developmental priority. Resources, partnerships, exchanges and capacities are all required in good measure, and conferences like this play a crucial and catalytic role in this regard. “Moving forward, collective action is required”, commented Arun Maira, Chairperson of Help Age Board of Directors, at the end of the conference,. That is the way forward. Let us hope that all the positives leverage collectively and help in productive ageing.

Prakash Tyagi, Citizen News Service - CNS
October 17, 2016