September 30, 2010

THAILAND: October 1 will be old folks day in Thailand

BANGKOK, Thailand / The Bangkok Post / Breaking News / September 30, 2010

Elderly people in Thailand will join people in 50 other countries on Friday to herald their rights and welfare agenda on the 20th United Nations International Day of Older Persons.

Several dozen of age-demands-action activists are expected to join the National Seminar on Health Care Services for Older People in Bangkok.

It will be opened by Health Department director-general Somyot Deerasmi, with participation from senior officials of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

Foundation for Older Persons' Development (FOPDEV) executive director Sawang Kaewkantha said there have been a lot of consultations, at least in the northern part of Thailand, on various issues affecting elderly people including accessibility to health services and old age pensions, particularly universal, non-contributory, social pensions, as well as job opportunities after retirement age.

Photo courtesy: CityLife/Chiang Mai

Discussions were conducted not only with home-based care NGO projects but with trade unions and elderly clubs, said Mr Sawang.

Old people would draw attention during tomorrow's seminar to the rights of older people, especially their access to national health security funds at a community level, as well as the universal social pensions.

October 1 is the UN International Day of Older People, as part of Age Demands Action, which this year focuses on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Age Demands Action, which is the first worldwide campaign for the elderly people since 2007, will hold simultaneous campaigns across Southeast Asia in the Philippines, Indonesia, Fiji, Cambodia and Thailand.

A new “Insights on Ageing” survey, the first global survey on perceptions of ageing released since early September, would also be shared with members of the respective societies tomorrow.

The survey results include:

- 60 per cent of people think older people are currently valued.

- Over 90 per cent expect to be valued in their own old age

- Around 85 per cent would like to see their governments do something to make living in old age better

- 60 per cent believe that compared to other global issues, it is very important for the world to support older people better.

Eduardo Klien, Regional Representative of Help Age International in East Asia and Pacific, said despite some progresses in achieving various development goals over the last 10 years, older people remain among the poorest and most vulnerable groups in our society.

“Older people are not explicitly mentioned in any of the MDG targets or indicators to measure their progress. As a result most development policies and programmes focus their efforts on children, young people and the working age poor, suggesting that there is little understanding of the critical social, economic and caring contributions of older people, especially in intergenerational households,” said Mr Klien.

He said that many poor older people continue to work well past the usual retirement age to support themselves and their families.

“The older people should therefore get fa air share of resources from development aid to empower their potential to contribute to society. Internationally, there should also be a convention to ensure older people’s rights are protected, like all other people in society.”

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