The opening ceremony for the Regional Forum on Policy Implications of Population Ageing took place earlier this morning at the Kaya Laleh Park Hotel Tabriz, with the presence of H.E. Professor Ali Rabiei, Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare; Dr. Mohsen Salman Nejad, Head of the Secretariat of the National Council for Older Persons; Dr. Anoushiravan Mohseni Bandpey, Deputy Minister and Head of the State Welfare Organization; Dr. Abdolreza Azizi, Head of Social Commission of the Parliament; Dr. Shabestari, Governor’s Deputy for Political and Security Affairs; Dr. Leila Joudane, UNFPA Representative; and Mr. Eduardo Klien, the Regional Director from HelpAge International.
The forum brings together international experts from Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Myanmar, Australia, Malaysia, and Pakistan, as well as over 70 experts and high officials from various organizations such as the Ministry of Health and Medical Education, University of Tehran, the Planning and Budgeting Organization and the Parliament.
The forum is jointly organized by the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labour and Social Welfare, the State Welfare Organization, the Secretariat of National Council for the Elderly, UNFPA, and the Asia and Regional Office of the Help Age International, Referring to ageing, Dr. Rabiei, emphasized on the feminization of ageing in Iran and developing countries in general- saying that the phenomenon is “rapid and inevitable”- and the urgency to review development policies from an “ageing perspective”. Among other important issues mentioned by Dr. Rabiei was the need to have a perspective shift from ageing being associated to powerlessness and isolation and the lack of proper cultural, social, economic, infrastructures. Dr. Rabiei welcomed South-South dialogues with Asian countries in order to address the ageing issue.
In her opening speech, Dr. Leila Joudane, UNFPA Representative in Iran, referred to ageing as a cause for celebration, as ageing is an indicator for development. Dr. Joudane focused in her speech on the feminization of ageing, the issue of income security for older people, and the need to take into consideration the diversity of older people in related planning.
The Forum will continue throughout the day with panel discussions on social Inclusion and income Security, demographic change and policy implications, and how well Asian societies’ are prepared to face ageing.
The first panel started with presentations by Dr. Giang Thanh Long, from Vietnam’s National Economics University, and Dr. Kyung Hee Chung, from the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs. The main message was that social protection must be guaranteed for all elderly, and that income security, active social participation, and health are component for a successful ageing.
The second panel was dedicated to Demographic change and policy implications, with presentations by Dr. Wesumperuma, Advisor on Ageing and Social Protection from Myanmar, and Ms. Jinanggoong Rojananan, from the National Economic and Social Development Board of Thailand. Dr. Wesumperuma reviewed Asia’s demographic trend between 1950s to 2050s, and the gradual transition in perspectives from the individual vulnerable older person model, to the advanced model of addressing implications of population ageing and mainstreaming it in policies. The latter touches on implications of ageing in economic productivity and social cohesion, and hence requires a multi-sectoral approach involving many ministries and planning organization.
The afternoon ended with a panel session on how well Asian societies are prepared to face ageing. The panel was composed of Ms. Jinanggoong Rojananan, Dr. Jalal Abassi, Dr. Haydar from Pakistan, and Dr. Mika Maramuto from Japan. Dr. Abassi emphasized that ageing is not a crisis or a tsunami, but a dynamic and long term process “which will not finish tomorrow”. The evidence-based approach was praised in which researcher’s role was deemed critical.
The second day will continue with panel discussions on the topic.