Statistics show that the proportion of individuals aged 60 and above in Singapore and South Korea will exceed that of Japan’s by 2065. Thailand and China will be just behind these countries, with Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam and Malaysia not too far behind.
The same demographic in Lao PDR, Myanmar, Indonesia and Cambodia is also projected to exceed Japan’s by 20 per cent by 2065.
Toward this end, the Centre for Ageing Research and Education (CARE) at Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore, held on September 4 an inaugural Regional Workshop on Integrating Policy and Research on Ageing in ASEAN on the theme ‘Conversations across the Policy and Research Divide’, with support from the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).
According to statistics from the Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE), the population of people 65 years and over in 2018 was 20,200 compared to 21,100 in 2017, while those aged between 15 to 64 was 330,600 compared to 317,100 in 2017.
The aim of the workshop was to provide opportunities for greater dialogue between policymakers and researchers on the topic so that national and regional policies, as well as planning on healthy and active ageing can be guided by evidence.
Given these projections, it is important that issues around population ageing are addressed not just at the country level, but also at the regional level.
The conference gathered policymakers and researchers from Southeast Asia, South Asia, China, Japan and South Korea, who shared insights on data and national policies with regards to ageing and the health of the respective countries, as well as regional initiatives on ageing.
“The first step towards advancing regional cooperation on ageing related challenges in Southeast Asia is to understand the current health status of older adults with evidence-based facts, to make sound and sustainable plans for achieving active ageing in the future,” said Executive Director of CARE and an Associate Professor at Duke-NUS’ Health Services and Systems Research Programme Dr Angelique Chan.
“This conference aims to provide opportunities for better dialogue among policymakers and researchers on population ageing, so that national and regional policies and planning on healthy and active ageing can be guided by evidence.”
Regional initiatives on ageing were presented at the conference by international agencies, including the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), ERIA, the ASEAN Research Network on Ageing and Help Age International.
The agencies also discussed the World Health Organization’s new International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) concept, which promotes active ageing and integrated care.
Longitudinal survey data and research results based on this would reveal the priority areas for policymaking on ageing and health for ASEAN, as well as countries in the wider Asian region.
“ERIA, as a think-tank mandated to make policy recommendations for ASEAN member states, feels it is time to bridge academics with policymakers,” said Special Advisor to the Health Care and Long Term Care Policy Unit at ERIA Dr Ozuke Komazawa.
“This workshop was designed to facilitate the dialogue between them and the utilisation of scientific data for policymaking. It is also expected that this workshop will provide a good opportunity for academics to understand what policymakers need for their activities.
“This conference organised by CARE is an ideal platform for the interaction between policymakers and researchers across Southeast Asia and other countries. Discussions such as these can help enormously in the development of evidence-based policies that address the needs of older adults,” said Senior Vice Dean for Research at Duke-NUS Professor Patrick Casey.