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#BeTheChange: It is about growing in years, not about getting old!

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Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS


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(CNS): As fertility rates decline and life expectancy increases, the number of senior citizens is growing globally. Among the 7.3 billion people worldwide in 2015, an estimated 617.1 million were aged 65 years or more. The Asia Pacific region is ageing rapidly and South-East Asia's elderly numbers are growing fast at around 5% a year - between now and 2030 there will be nearly 20 million more people aged 60 and above in the region.

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Turning its focus upon the the ageing populations in ASEAN countries, the European Union (EU) awarded a grant to the HelpAge East Asia Pacific Regional Office (HelpAge EAPRO) to implement a 4-year project (February 2013-January 2017) with key partners for "Strengthening the CSO Network on Ageing as a Development Partner in Southeast Asia (AMCo)". This project prioritised strategic activities in 6 ASEAN countries of Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. The main issues that the project targeted were:

- network-capacity building;

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- dialogue with governments/others on ageing issues;

- strengthening of older people's associations (OPAs) and their interaction with governments;

- expansion of social pensions and social assistance to vulnerable senior citizens; and

- increasing government awareness on the implications of rapid ageing and on the contributions and needs of older people.

Even as the ASEAN turns 50 and the EU turns 60 in 2017, the EU-ASEAN also celebrates this year the 40th anniversary of their relationship for promotion of common development goals.

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In an exclusive interview given to CNS (Citizen News Service), on the sidelines of the closing workshop organised by HelpAge EAPRO in Chiang Mai, Mr Jerome Pons, Head of Cooperation (Malaysia and Thailand) at the European Union, made a strong case for adapting development responses to meet the unique needs of changing population demographics in Southeast Asia.

Stop ignoring ageing issues

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Citizen News Service (CNS) specializes in in-depth and rights-based, health and science journalism. For more information, please contact: www.citizen-news.org or @cns_health or www.facebook.com/cns.page
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