Vietnam rushes to improve elderly healthcare

  • 15:53 - 2018/08/03

Only 5.7 per cent of Vietnam’s older people maintain good health—a worrisome sign as the country’s population is aging faster than almost any other country in the world, said Nguyen Duc Cong, director of Thong Nhat Hospital and deputy president of HCM City Association of Geriatrics at last week’s “Nutrition and Geriatrics” conference.

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Dong Da General Hospital established the first department of geriatrics in Hanoi in 2016. –  Photo Duong Ngoc

“Given the rapid pace of population aging in Vietnam, healthcare for older people must receive better attention. On average, a person suffers 14 years of living with diseases over their entire life. On average, an older person has about 2.4 days of illness each month and has at least three diseases needed treatment,” Cong said.

According to the 2011 national survey, more than 60 per cent of older people are in “weak” or “very weak” condition. Common chronic diseases usually require a long period of treatment, or even a lifetime of care. Treatment expenses for older people are high, from seven to 10 times of the cost for younger people. The medicine used by the elderly accounts for more than a half of total drug consumption.

As the population ages, the lack of geriatricians is the biggest challenge in healthcare for older people. Meanwhile, in Vietnam, elderly care and protection are mostly handled by relatives and housemaids.

Truong Dinh Bac, deputy head of Department of Preventative Healthcare under the Ministry of Health, emphasised the need for medical policies for the aging population. He also praised HCM City for its efforts in conducting research, training and accelerating international cooperation in geriatrics.

At the event, medical specialists pointed out three factors which can improve a person’s longevity, including disease control, mental and physical health improvement and social engagement. Meanwhile, several specialists highly noted that the rise of non-communicable diseases in the context of a rapidly ageing population poses a major challenge to the global healthcare system, and unhealthy diets and a lack of physical exercise might shorten life expectancy.

Vietnam’s population officially started aging in 2011. At present, there are about 10.1 million older people in the country, accounting for 11 per cent of its population. It is predicted that the percentage will rise to 18 per cent and 26 per cent in 2030 and 2050, respectively.

Source: VNS

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