The population of senior citizens is expected to reach 7.8 per cent by 2021, which is just three years away. This would qualify Brunei Darussalam as an ageing country, whereby the old make up seven per cent of the population.
This was shared by Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) through the Centre for Advanced Research (CARe) in the findings from a research dubbed ‘Ageing: Implications for Brunei Darussalam’ during the opening ceremony of the ‘Regional Forum to Strengthen the Social Protection Policy Focusing on Women and the Ageing Population.’
To address the rise in senior citizens population, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) will continue to provide comprehensive and quality services to senior citizens, not only through the Community Development Department (JAPEM) but also through programmes implemented through the Senior Citizen Action Plan.
The growing concern on ageing population in Brunei was raised by Deputy Permanent Secretary (Community) at the MCYS Saidah binti Haji Wahid at the opening ceremony of International Day of Older Persons Symposium (Dementia) at the International Convention Centre yesterday.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin officiated the symposium.
Saidah, the chair of the event, stressed that senior citizens are a valuable asset to the nation not only because of their contribution to the development of the community and the country, but also because the knowledge and experience they possess can be used beneficially by future generations as exemplary life guides.
“It’s undeniable that the well-being and development we enjoy today are the result of the sweat of the older generation now becoming senior citizens. Therefore, senior citizens should be respected and given attention, while their rights and needs should be safeguarded to ensure a better quality of life.”
She said one of the issues frequently faced by senior citizens is dementia. This was shared by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar during the October 20 launch of the Healthy Mukim Programme for Mukim Serasa. According to World Health Organization statistics, it is estimated that 2,000 people in Brunei had dementia in 2017.
Touching on the programmes implemented through the Senior Citizen Action Plan, she highlighted, “Among them is the provision of senior citizen services and the BESTARI community service centre in providing lifelong learning, like IT literacy programme carried out by Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI) in the Senior Citizen Activity Centre in the Brunei-Muara District, which will be expanded to the whole country.
“The distribution of computers will also be implemented in preparation toward IT literacy for senior citizens. This includes wifi installation at centres, starting from the Tutong Senior Citizen Activity Centre and eventually to other districts.”
The Seed Money programme, she said, “Caters for the Senior Citizen Activity Centre to provide opportunities to senior citizen small business owners, and to empower senior citizens in line with the ability to provide optimum results in national development. The programme is also expected to be able to generate and increase the income of senior citizens through social enterprises.”
Legislative Council members, Acting Permanent Secretary (Strategy Management and Policy) at the MCYS Dr Siti Norkhalbi binti Haji Wahsalfelah, Demensia Brunei President Dr Shyh Poh Teo and 800 senior citizens attended the event.