Based on current demographic trends, Vietnam’s elderly population will double from 7 per cent to 14 per cent of the total - the threshold for a country’s population to be considered “aged” - by 2035.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the World Bank have jointly launched a knowledge-sharing program to assist policymakers in Vietnam with developing new models of elderly care services as Vietnam’s population is ageing at a pace faster than any of its regional peers. The joint program will be implemented in three phases from now to March/April 2020.

The first activity was a seminar in Hanoi where 40 government officials from line ministries, such as the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Finance, and the Vietnam National Committee on Aging attended to gain a better understanding of the nature of the issues and the challenges in elderly care the country is facing.

“Rapid population ageing in Vietnam will have significant economic, social, and fiscal implications,” said Mr. Ousmane Dione, the World Bank Country Director for Vietnam. “Vietnam needs to start preparing for an ageing society now by developing a comprehensive and financially-sustainable health and social care service system that can provide the elderly with the care they need.”

Vietnam needs to address major structural bottlenecks to facilitate a transition to a new elderly care model, including limited access to essential medical and social care services as well as low cooperation among relevant sectors (health, social, and finance, among others). But the country stands to benefit from the experience of its peers. At the seminar, experts from Japan and Thailand shared their experience and lessons learned in designing policies and institutional arrangements with proper attention paid to the associated fiscal impacts.

“Over the past decade, JICA has been supporting Thailand to develop a Community-based Integrated Care Model while adapting to the local context,” said Mr. Tetsuo Konaka, Chief Representative of the JICA Vietnam Office. “We believe that by utilizing experiences and lessons learned from Thailand and Japan, Vietnam can learn how to develop and implement an effective care model for the elderly.”

Following the seminar will be a study tour to Thailand to enhance the understanding of participants and promote South-South learning. The last phase will focus on internalizing key lessons from the study tour and synthesize these into policy recommendations and develop a service model.