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Thailand: Better Care and Welfare to Be Provided for Older Persons
Source: thailand.prd.go.th
Source Date: Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Country: Thailand
Created: Apr 19, 2010

The Government attaches great importance to providing better care and welfare for older persons. The issue was discussed at a national assembly for older persons, held recently in Bangkok to mark the National Day for the Elderly.

April 13 is observed as the National Day for the Elderly to heighten public awareness of Thai cultural values. The day was picked because it coincides with Songkran Festival, the traditional Thai New Year. During this festival, people from rural areas who are working in the city usually return home to visit and pay respect to their elders. The proclamation of the National Day for the Elderly was made in 1982, when the First World Assembly on Aging was organized by the United Nations in Vienna, Austria.

This year’s slogan for the celebration of the National Day for the Elderly focuses on the theme “The Force of Older Persons Creates Unity in Thai Society,” which underlines the importance of older persons in bringing about social harmonization and unity.

According to the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, the number of people aged 60 and over in Thailand in 2008 stood at 7.4 million, accounting for 11.1 percent of the population. Many of them suffer from such chronic diseases as hypertension and diabetes. Most of the elderly, at more than 90 percent, are being taken care of by members of their families.

As for access to lifelong education, most older persons in the survey opt to receive news and information from television, at 67.3 percent, followed by radio, at 65.2 percent. In 2008, the number of older persons continuing their studies at the university level rose to almost 3,000, while 13,500 enrolled in various courses under non-formal education, and almost 149,000 attended short-term vocational training.

The Minister of Social Development and Human Security, Mr. Issara Somchai, said that the aging population in Thailand and elsewhere is on the rise. In the next 20 years, Thailand’s aging population is expected to increase to 25 percent of the population. The Government needs to work out long-term planning to cope with the situation, both in terms of public health and social security.

Starting in April 2009, the Government began offering a 500-baht monthly allowance for older persons across the country. The program is among the social welfare systems created during the past year. Mr. Issara said that the national assembly for older persons agreed that local administrative organizations should play a greater role in managing welfare for the elderly. In this regard, the database on older persons across the country should be linked with that of local organizations for use to set policy and planning to provide better welfare for them.

He said that lifelong education for older persons would receive a major boost. Schools and learning centers for this group of people will be established. Each community will be urged to set up a committee specially to handle social welfare for the elderly, while Thailand is prepared for entering an aging society in the future.
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