Cambodia’s Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to enhance institutional capacity and operationalize Cambodia’s national aging policy. This aims at safeguarding the welfare of the aged in the country.
The agreement, which will initially last for two years, contains details of several areas of cooperation to support Cambodia’s ageing population. According to the joint press statement, the agreement will cover areas such as the development of the Action Plan Phase II (2021-2025). This is in response to the National Ageing Policy (2017-2030). It also includes the roll-out of a chosen pilot program.
Also, the deal includes the production of empirical evidence and capacity building to national counterparts on the socio-economic impacts of expanding social protection measures. The agreement will also help explore the feasibility of extending free healthcare to elderly citizens.
Youngest populations in Southeast Asia
It is important to note that Cambodia currently has one of the youngest populations in Southeast Asia. However, its population is also aging. In 2019, 8.9 percent of the kingdom’s 16 million population were above 60 years. This compares to 5.25 percent two decades ago. Meanwhile, the joint statement expects the current figure to increase to 21 percent by 2050.
The statement warned of the dire implications of the rising ageing population in Cambodia. Over the next decades a potentially shrinking working age population will need to support an expanding elderly population .
Meanwhile, Nick Beresford, UNDP resident representative in Cambodia highlighted the need to put in place the right policies to improve the lives of the aged. He indicated that the population is gradually ageing as such the structure may start changing in the middle of the 2020s.
“Cambodia is a young country, but it won’t stay that way. In the mid-2020s, we will reach a turning point where the number of old age dependents is growing faster than the number of working age people. “So we need to act now to put in place old age pensions and social protection systems that give senior citizens the support and dignity they deserve”.Nick Beresford
Respect and care for the elderly, integral to Cambodian culture
Furthermore, Vong Sauth underscored that respect and care for the elderly are integral to Cambodian culture. He added that ensuring a high quality of life for older persons is always among the government’s strategic priorities.
Moreover, he expressed his government’s readiness to partner the UNDP and other partners. Especially, in issues relating to promoting the welfare of the people of Cambodia
“The royal government is looking forward to working with UNDP and other partners to promote the welfare of Cambodian elderlies”.Vong Sauth, minister of social affairs, veterans and youth rehabilitation
Mr. Sauth stressed that this will help create “a more vibrant social protection system throughout the individual’s life cycle”.