“Transcending Demographic Trends: Gearing Up Toward an Ageing Population”
To our esteemed colleagues in the field of demographics and population studies, members and participants to the 2016 Philippine Population Association (PPA) Scientific Conference, a very pleasant morning to you all.
In behalf of our beloved Secretary Dinky Juliano-Soliman, I congratulate you on holding your annual event and continuing your tradition of choosing relevant subjects indicative of our ever-evolving society. With the theme, “Transcending Demographic Trends: Gearing Up Toward an Ageing Population”, may I especially laud your choice of Ageing and the Elderly Population as your over-arching topic this year.
It has been said that once we are born, we have already started to age. Instead of looking at the elderly population as a mere “vulnerable” sector, and of ageing as an abstract concept without a face, we should realize that ageing is inevitable and is actually a stage most of us will undergo and experience. Hence, our plans, policies, legislations and programs must be geared towards a wholistic and integrated approach in addressing these accompanying needs and necessary concerns.
All over the world, the human population is ageing, and the Philippines is no exception. Globally and within the Asia Pacific region, the proportion of older people is growing faster than any other age group, partly due to declining birth rates and higher life expectancy. In 2010, the Western Pacific region had more than 235 million people aged 60 years and over, accounting for 13% of the total population. Over 30 million people or almost 2% of the population were very old ( 80 years old and over). In the region as a whole, 77% of the older people (60 years and above) and 66% of the very old live in low and middle income countries. (Source: WHO Western Pacific Region Regional Framework for Action on Ageing and Health)
Meanwhile, based on the 2010 Philippine census, there are now 6.23 million persons aged 60 years old and above. They represent 6.76% of the 92.1 million total population. Although still slightly behind other South East Asian counterparts, the Philippines will soon be considered an ageing country as well in another decade or so. Per United Nations standards, we are shy of the .24% to be considered an ageing society. (Source: Philippine Statistics Authority, Age and Sex Structure of the Philippine Population)
An ageing population entails challenges and places increasing economic and social demands on all countries. Our ageing population, both elderly men and women, require special needs in health care and finance, employment, socio-political reintegration and participation and the like.
As a global trend, population ageing has a wide variation in pace and health impacts among countries and within countries. With many older people maintaining good physical and mental health, while others experience significant disability and disease, population ageing is a key public health challenge for all countries. Societies and health systems must find ways to maintain the optimal health and functional capacity of older people and their social participation and security. It is through population ageing that a government’s past public health and development efforts are truly reflected.
It is in this context that we now find new relevance in demographic researches and population studies that focus on particular marginalized and vulnerable sectors like our senior citizens. It is in relevant statistics, facts and figures, which have proven that they are indeed marginalized and in need of special protection. This vital information gleaned by our partners in the academe and non-governmental organizations which have significantly aided policy-making and legislative advocacy and lobbying.
At this point, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners in the UP Population Institute (UPPI) whose 2007 Longitudinal Study on the Health and Economic Status of Filipino Elderly became quite instrumental in the passage of many progressive provisions included in Republic Act No. 9994, the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, and paved the way for many additional benefits and privileges for our senior citizens.
I would also like to cite the contributions made by our partners in UP Manila National Institutes of Health-Institute on Ageing, whose recent researches in Health Human Resources and Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease have provided important bases for future policy recommendations and social welfare interventions, especially in the area of elder abuse.
Of late, the DSWD through the Policy Development and Planning Bureau is in the process of reviewing and assessing accomplishments and compliance under the Philippine Plan of Action for Senior Citizens (PPASC) 2012-2016. This is in preparation for the crafting of the next successor plan PPASC 2017-2021. Through this august body, I enjoin everyone here to share whatever valuable information they have to enhance this national sectoral plan for our senior citizens and to improve the over-all quality of life of the Filipino elderly.
Thank you very much. Mabuhay ang ating mga Lolo’t Lola.