Regional initiatives needed in response to ageing population in ASEAN

Delegatess from ASEAN member states and partners, at an international workshop, said that responding to an ageing population should be given priority, and timely measures should be well-prepared

An international workshop provided a forum for foreign experts to share their experience and make recommendations on promoting active ageing and mental health in ASEAN member states. Source:

The “International Workshop on Strengthening Stakeholders Cooperation in Promoting Active Ageing and Mental Health in ASEAN” is being co-held on November 18 and 19 by the Ministry of Health, the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The workshop has gathered more than 170 representatives from ASEAN member states and partners.

The speed of population ageing is among the fastest in the member countries of the ASEAN, which is a matter of high significance for the social and health care services for older persons.

In his opening remarks, Deputy Minister of Health Truong Quoc Cuong said the 21st century is viewed as the century of population ageing. ASEAN has the third-largest population in the world, after only China and India. The elderly (those aged over 65) number more than 45 million people, accounting for 7 percent of the regional population. By 2030, this group of population is forecast to reach 132 million, or 16.7 percent of the bloc’s population.

Four ASEAN nations - Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia - are already considered ageing societies and expected to move to “super-aged” by 2050, Cuong said.

He went on to talk about the situation in Vietnam, saying the elderly now account for 7.7 percent of the national population, or 7.4 million people, with over 2 million aged 80 or above. The country officially entered the "ageing phase" in 2011, and is among the most rapidly ageing countries in the world.

It will take Vietnam only 20 years to move from an “ageing” society, where the over-65s make up 14 percent of the total population, to an “aged” one, where the percentage is over 14 percent, while such a transition took much longer in developed countries, such as France (115 years), Switzerland (85 years), Australia (73 years), and the US (69 years), the deputy minister noted.

Ageing-induced demographic changes have had a major impact on all socio-economic matters in each country and each society, he continued, so the workshop offers a good opportunity for ASEAN countries to seek ways to ramp up the concerted efforts of all stakeholders in enhancing care for the elderly and achieving an active ageing and healthy ASEAN Community as well as a cohesive and resilient ASEAN.

Population ageing is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the 21st century. One in nine people in the world is aged 60 or over, and by 2050, one in five people could be aged 60 or over. During 2015-2030, the number of old persons is forecast to surge 56 percent, from 901 million to 1.4 billion. By 2030, persons aged 60 or above will outnumber people aged 15-24.

Huong Diu