Thailand is aging faster than any other country in ASEAN and will be the second country to become a super-aged society in the region after Singapore.
The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security is committed to driving sustainable human and social development, and our work covers all dimensions of human, community, urban and social development. Through our work, we aim to help Thai people reach their full potential and overcome change.
One of the key challenges we are addressing is aging, which is a big issue for Thailand and ASEAN, and it affects all segments of society, not only the elderly.
From an economic perspective, aging combined with technological disruption is changing employment and job characteristics.
At the community level, aging is transforming our social and family structures.
Our elderly face profound mental and physical health challenges. A recent survey of seniors in Thailand found that:
35.04% are mentally abused
30.98% are abandoned
23.5% are physically abused. Moreover, 52% of these shocking acts of violence are committed by family members.
Statistics from the Department of Mental Health within the Ministry of Public Health indicated that:
In 2017, 801 seniors committed suicide, accounting for 20.3% of all suicides in Thailand. These suicides are linked to chronic disease and depression.
Aging also affects the environments in which we live. Concepts like universal design in our homes and public infrastructures are becoming very important to ensure that seniors are able to safely travel and move around.
The government is taking the challenge of an aging society very seriously. To support our elderly, the government develop the 6S’s for Sustainability and 4C’s for Change policies, which the cabinet approved on 4 December 2018.
The 6Ss of Sustainability consist of:
S1 – Creating an elderly protection and welfare system
S2 – Promoting elderly employment
S3 – Altering the healthcare system to meet the changing needs of our elderly society
S4 – Adjusting the infrastructures in our communities and homes to create a safe and accessible environment for the elderly
S5 – Introducing the Time Bank for Elderly Care concept
S6 – Improving knowledge about elderly care among younger generations
The 4Cs of Change consist of:
C1 – Enhancing cooperation to empower elderly society
C2 – Modifying labor law to facilitate seniors in the workforce
C3 – Reforming the information system to help seniors find work
C4 – Leveraging innovation to reduce inequality among the elderly
We have also established the National Board on the Elderly, for which the Prime Minister serves as President. This Board focuses on integrating initiatives to support the elderly at all levels, from the ministerial to local levels, and segments of society, including government, business and civil society.
Importantly, Thailand has over 70,000 trained volunteers to support social development and human security. These volunteers help all members of society, from children to seniors.
In nearly every district of Thailand, we have established “Elderly Schools,” in collaboration with local government and businesses.
As of 2017, there were 28,640 elderly clubs nationwide. These clubs are very valuable for promoting mental and physical health among seniors at the community level.
Overall, to build a strong aging society, we need the public, private, and civil society sectors to collaborate and encourage all Thai people, from children to seniors, to adopt healthy lifestyles.
At the same time, all people need to take responsibility for their own behaviors and develop healthy habits when they are young so that they may live long, independent, and happy lives as they age. For those who are unable to care for themselves, our healthcare system and society must step in to help these vulnerable individuals.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I appreciate the efforts of a business in Pfizer and a non-profit, civil society organization in Kenan Foundation Asia to come together to prepare our elderly for quality aging. The Pfizer Healthy Aging Society project is a great example of collaboration and an important piece contributing to the larger puzzle of building a strong aging society in Thailand.
It’s my honor to welcome you to this forum and I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to Kenan and Pfizer for their efforts over the past three years. Thank you.