The world is facing demographical, epidemiological, and socio-economical changes as low-income and middle-income countries grow economically into higher income countries. Today, many countries are confronting an unprecedented speed of ageing, higher morbidity and mortality rates caused by non-communicable diseases, and weakening social and family bond, a by-product of economic growth. These factors generate a new vulnerable population: elderly people.
The demographical change is massive and rapid. “The global population aged 60 years or over numbered 962 million in 2017, more than twice as large as in 1980 when there were 382 million older persons worldwide. The number of older persons is expected to double again by 2050, when it is projected to reach nearly 2.1 billion”*. This ageing phenomenon is undoubtedly an important global health agenda that the world must be prepared for.
In many countries, informal caregivers, who are usually family members, care the elderly, but this traditional method is gradually imposing a burden on those caregivers, depriving them of employment opportunities and putting them in poverty. This method would not work well as the proportion of the elderly population further increases. This is why governments are required to develop a public and professional elderly care system, and there are increasing demand for the knowledge of elderly care.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has worked closely with Thailand in developing a community elderly care model, utilizing the knowledge and experience accumulated in Japan, where the population aged 65 years or over exceeds 28%.
The Thailand model demonstrates an important nexus among the health system, caregivers, and community organizations. Universal Health Coverage works as a foundation to strengthen elderly care, ensuring the continuum of care for the elderly in transition from the acute phase of the illness to the home care phase, and providing primary health care for the elderly at the community level. Elderly care is strengthened by increasing multi-stakeholder collaborations. Hospitals, health centers, professional caregivers and the community should collaborate to provide appropriate care for the elderly as their care needs change.
Building on the partnership with Thailand, JICA plans to extend its assistance to Chile, Mexico and Sri Lanka in the near future. By inviting high-level speakers from these countries, this event will offer you a joint-learning opportunity through knowledge sharing and discussion on what works and what does not, and will try to find possible solutions to the aging issue. Please join us and participate in our knowledge creation process.
*United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. 2017. “World Population Ageing 2017”