Elderly care in Vietnam is encountering challenges from the aging population. In the past 25 years Vietnam has gone through fundamental social changes. It is leaping towards market-oriented economy with socialist orientation, and the dynamics of the population also changes. The aging trend largely results from the positive improvement of the demographic conditions, such as the decrease of mortality rate, reduction of birth rate and increase in people’s life expectancy. Statistics from the General Statistics office showed that the maternal mortality rate reduced from 233/100,000 live births in 1999 to 69/100,000 live births in 2009. People’s life expectancy is also increasing, from male – 63 years and female – 67.5 years in 1989, to 70.2 and 75.6 years in 2009 respectively.
Regarding the ageing population itself, the rate of elderly people who are 60 years and over increased from 8.12 percent in 1999 to 10.45 percent in 2014. The increasing rate of elderly group was the fastest growing among all groups. The aging index (i.e. ratio of population over 60 years on children population (0-14 years) was only 18.2 percent in 1989, and was up to 35.7 percent in 2009, which is higher than the average ratio of South East Asia region (30 percent).
Obstacles in promoting the elderly care in Vietnam
The aging population ensures the prospects for developing the elderly care in Vietnam. However, the poverty stands in the way. In 2013, the Human Development Index ranked Vietnam 64 among 187 countries according to poverty level. The proportion of elderly people living in poor households has also increased, from 17.2 percent to 22.3 percent in 2014. The elderly people thus have difficulties obtaining necessary health care services. Over half of the elderly (56 percent) self-assessed their health conditions as weak (49.4 percent) and very weak (6.7 percent). More than 39.2 percent of the elderly doesn’t have health insurance card.
Call for more involvement from private sectors
Government has been paying close attention to the aging population. Such issue is included as one of the prioritized issues in the new national strategy in the National Action Plan on Aging period 2012-2020. Policies issued to ameliorate the situation include the Elderly Law, the Reform Law of Health Insurance 2014, and so on. However, Vietnamese government lacks the capacity to provide full support to the elderly care in Vietnam. The responsibility turns to private sectors’ involvement. The inability of local players attracts foreign investors to involve in the elderly care in Vietnam. The Chandler Corporation acquired 80 percent stake in the Hoan My Medical Corporation, Vietnam’s largest private hospital group. Due to the huge demand for elderly care in Vietnam, the involvement of private sectors can be expected to grow.