The Regional Forum on Policies on Ageing was held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, 20–21 July 2017. It was organised by HelpAge International in collaboration with Myanmar’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT).
The two-day event was attended by 99 international and Myanmar participants, representing 15 countries and comprising government representatives, experts/academics, UN and regional agencies, and civil society partners.
The event was organised in the realisation that governments in the Asia and Pacific region need up-to-date national policies, plans and laws on ageing in order to address the needs of older people and be prepared for the effects of demographic change on their societies and economies. Several countries in Asia are currently drafting or revising ageing policy documents, including Myanmar itself.
The objective of the Forum was to share cross-country experience on the nature, role and effective implementation of national policies on ageing in a period of rapid demographic change.
The key messages from the event are:
- Asia’s populations are ageing rapidly, but policy development has failed to keep pace.
- A single national policy or action plan on ageing is an insufficient response to rapid population ageing. Such policies must be linked to mainstream sectorial plans and national development plans that address a broader range of issues such as health and care, social protection, employment and engagement of older people as a resource in their economies and societies.
- Thus, more comprehensive policy frameworks are needed for addressing the challenges for older people but also of ageing societies.
- A major weakness with policies on ageing has been implementation. Many national policies on ageing appear to have had limited success in implementation. A policy on ageing must be accompanied by a measurable action plan to be effective.
- In addition to the Ministries of Social Welfare or Social Affairs, multiple ministries must be engaged. There are examples of national coordination bodies in Asia and their success depends largely not only on their broad composition but on the strength of their executive body or secretariat and political support.