Ageing and Elderly in Cambodia 2006

Posted by khmernews on June 14, 2007

Joint Dissemination Workshop on
Ageing and Elderly in Cambodia
28 September 2006
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Statement by Ms. Bettina Maas,
UNFPA Representative, Cambodia

Excellencies, Distinguished Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of UNFPA I am very pleased to participate in this Joint Workshop on Ageing and Elderly Surveys in Cambodia. Today we will have the opportunity to look and learn from recent research findings and to discuss possible implications for policy and programmed development. The issue of aging and the elderly is reflected in the National Population Policy and the National Strategic Development Plan towards achieving the CMDGS and those of the Rectangular Strategy. We at UNFPA trust that this is one small step in contributing to a vision for a society of all ages.

Ladies and Gentlemen

In many regions of the world, the number and proportion of those 60 years and older is growing faster than any other age group. By the year 2050, the old and young will represent equal proportions of global population with the proportion of those aged 60 and over expected to double from 10 to 21 percent and the proportion of children expected to drop by a third from 30 to 21 percent. To put it simple: in 50 years the world will have more people of 60+ than below 15 and eighty percent of these older persons will live in developing countries. For the first time in human history, four or more generations will be living in the same time and space, presenting serious challenges to human society to reorient its family, social and economic arrangements. Demographers would say that the population pyramid converts into a population pillar.

This is a shift that requires a timely and proper response and poses unforeseen challenges. Particularly for developing countries the real challenge lies in balancing the needs and rights of an increasing number of older people with those of the largest youth population in history. In other words, we must address the challenges of the young and old generations together and simultaneously.

Global ageing is occurring at a rate never seen before and vast differences in quality of life exist between older people living in the wealthy countries and those living in the developing world, particularly those living in the Least Developed Countries. As populations grow older, and as living and working conditions change, the patterns of diseases also shift.

The next few decades will test countries ability to address health care, retirement and pension benefits, and other issues that affect senior citizens around the world. While people are living longer than ever before, many face a future without a social safety net. In many societies, the forces of migration, urbanization and modernization are fracturing the sense of community and family support system that the elderly have traditionally counted on.

The fact is that population aging affects not only the elderly and their families and communities but it has implications for development. This is why, as some of you are aware, the International Conference of Population Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994, and the Second World Assembly on Aging held in Madrid in April 2002, have strongly urged the international community, particularly the UN system and donors to help developing countries to prepare to deal with this emerging development policy challenge. Several other conferences have urged international community to support population ageing issues in the context of development. In short: it is recognized that the development agenda needs to give adequate consideration to the implications of population and inter-generational issues taking into account its gender and socio-cultural dimension.

This evolves (to mention only a few critical points):

-Provision of data and evidence for policy and decision making including taking account of different realities such as the feminization of an aging society and the special needs of people without children;
– Awareness and capacity building of socio and health policy makers to recognize and plan for the implications of aging;
– Recognition of the fact that the family continues to be the major social institution responsible for the care of the elderly and hence needs to receive social support to fulfill this role;
– Strengthening of formal and informal mechanisms for the support of older people and improve the health conditions for all throughout the life cycle;
– Based on the human rights Charta include the rights and needs of the aging and elderly in legal frameworks to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence.
– Involvement of elderly in all spheres of life and development. With higher life expectancy, older people increasingly want to remain economically active and make a contribution to development. Societies need to recognize the strengths of older persons and empower them.
– Building partnerships, including with Civil Society Organizations, on the concerns and care of the rapidly growing older population in the developing world.

To sum it up: Human rights, sustainable human development, and poverty eradication programmed must be developed, designed, and monitored at all levels with older people playing an active role. The forces of progress that have brought about longer life spans, smaller and healthier families must also foster a sense of community, solidarity and care towards the elderly. Investments made today in public policy and health- including reproductive health and family planning- and education and job creation for the young will lay a sound foundation for economic growth to pay for the ageing populations in the future.

Ladies and Gentlemen

For the past two decade UNFPA globally has supported government and NGOs efforts to meet the challenges of ageing populations in terms of policy dialogues, data collection and resource mobilization for country-led programmed. I am pleased that UNFPA here in Cambodia is associated with this workshop aiming at disseminating the ageing surveys to planners and stakeholders for the purpose of promoting the use of these findings in their planning processes and development programmed.

This is a joint workshop in cooperation with NCPD, UNFPA, Population Studies Center- University of Michigan, Institute of Public and International Affairs- University of Utah and RUPP. It is my pleasure to congratulate and thank the NCPD for making these arrangements.

I hope that this workshop will provide a useful learning opportunity and that we all can be advocates for a society of equal opportunities and dignity for women and men of all ages.

Thank You.


One Response to “Ageing and Elderly in Cambodia 2006”

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