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Life expectancy in SE Asia to rise above 75yrs in 40 years: WHO

Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha . Dhaka

The average life expectancy of people in the South and South-East Asia will rise to 75 years in less than 40 years, WHO said Monday, insisting the number of aged people over 60 years will triple by 2050 from its current figure of 142 million.
‘Approximately 142 million people or 8 per cent of the population of WHO’s South-East Asia Region are (now) above the age of 60 years. The number of aged people will be doubled by 2025 and tripled by 2050 compared to 2000,’ said a release of the New Delhi-based South-East Asia Regional Office  of the World Health Organisation.
The WHO, ahead of World Health Day on April 7, said the average life expectancy in most countries in the region would be above 75 year by 2050.
The WHO will draw global attention this year to ageing and health to highlight elderly as a rapidly emerging priority that most countries in the region have yet to address adequately.
However, it said out of 11 countries of WHO’s SEARO region, national policies to promote ageing exist in Bangladesh, North Korea, India, Indonesia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
But the issues such as economic effects of ageing on health care system, ways of ensuring independence in old age, quality of life, the role of family and the state in care giving, humanitarian crises and older population, and health problems of elderly females and very old persons, were largely remained unattended.
‘Older women outnumber and outlive older men. Gender discrimination and widowhood has a considerable impact on health of elderly women’ said Samlee Plianbangchang, regional director of WHO.
‘Disease preventions through immunisation, good nutrition, and healthy lifestyles will result in an elderly population who are a rich resource for families, communities and nations’ he observed.
Smoking, alcohol consumption, poor diet, sedentary lifestyles and exposure to toxic substances at work also influence health outcomes in old age, he said adding with nuclear families replacing joint families and large rural-to-urban migrations, the old and the infirm are often left at home.
‘These changing patterns of society are now affecting the care of the old and very old persons at home. Healthy ageing requires a significant paradigm shift in providing care to the elderly.’
The WHO said several countries, such as India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, in the region had introduced age-friendly policies and plans of action and those approaches had been contributing significantly to long-term care to seniors through family, community and institutional-based interventions.
Traditionally and religiously the elderly people of Bangladesh are very much respectable and they are treated as the symbol of family identity. With the modernisation, urbanisation and individualisation, the elderly people are mostly left in rural areas in loneliness and social isolation by their sons and daughters.

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