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SE Asia health ministers agree better policies on the elderly

Publication Date : 05-09-2012


Health ministers from the 11 member states of the World Health Organisation Southeast Asia Regional Office (Searo) agreed yesterday to adopt the Yogyakarta Declaration on Aging and Health, and committed to improving national responses to the health of aging populations.

The declaration comes at an important juncture in history as 142 million people or 8 per cent of the population of the region are above the age of 60. The figure is estimated to double by 2025 and treble by 2050.

"The WHO follows a life-course approach to promoting healthy, active aging. People who get the right start in life, follow healthy lifestyles and take good care of their health can expect to remain active during their eighth, ninth and even 10th decades of life," WHO director general Margaret Chan said.

The adoption was made during the 30th health ministers meeting and the 65th session of the WHO regional committee for Southeast Asia in Yogyakarta, opened by Indonesian Vice President Boediono yesterday.

WHO's Searo groups together Bangladesh, Bhutan, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor Leste.

The declaration underscores concern that the economic effects of aging will impact on health care and social support systems and will require the attention of policy makers, NGOs and the private sector.

The ministers also recognised that healthy aging should optimise opportunities for the physical, social and mental health of older persons to enable them to take an active part in society and to enjoy an independent life without discrimination.

Indonesia's Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi said in her remarks at the meeting that the declaration "will force governments of [Southeast Asia region] member states to commit on building partnerships among various stakeholders to strengthen health qualities and services for aging populations."

Providing an example, Mboi said that Singapore had implemented a policy that prioritised housing facilities for families who were willing live together with their respective aged parents.

"In this case, each of the states has to look for the right policy for its respective country," she said.


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