Her Excellency คุณหญิงชฎา วัฒนศิริธรรม, Chairperson, Kenan Foundation Asia,
Executive Committee, Kenan Foundation Asia,
Distinguished Speakers and Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, it is my great pleasure and honor to deliver my opening speech at this important gathering today.
May I begin by expressing my sincere gratitude towards Kenan Foundation Asia for dedication on preparation for an aging society and success in organizing this international conference.
Please allow me to share with you the aging situation in Thailand and progress of the implementation in aging issues by the Royal Thai government.
Thailand has become an “aged society” since 2005 with the proportion of the older population at 10%. By 2021, the share of the older population will rise to 20% of the overall population meaning that Thailand will become a “complete aged society” within 3 years.
Moreover, it is found that a third of the older population are living under the poverty line while their main financial resource came from their adult children. However, this support has been declining significantly while the trend of the elderly workforce has been increasing.
In addition, a decline of age-related health (Single/Old/Poor) requires standardized and affordable health care services. Preventive health care and healthy lifestyles should also be promoted in order to delay illnesses and prolong healthy life expectancy among older people.
Furthermore, the specific needs of the elderly regarding living environments and housing, increase the demand for assistance made possible by technology and infrastructure development.
In order to prepare our society and address these issues, the Royal Thai government by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security cooperates with relevant public sectors and private partners to support and empower older people in the broad categories of the economy and finances, health, and living environment.
We work in policy and also implementation levels in order to prepare society for an aging population in all aspects. For seniors, there is a non-contributory monthly allowance for all Thai older people and also an additional allowance for the poor ones. The National Saving Fund is another mechanism intended to boost domestic saving and provide sufficient finances for the lives of seniors.
For the pre-aged group, financial planning for retirement is crucial. While in terms of society as a whole, the change in demographic structure and technology disruption create different demands which will affect the worker’s skills. In order to ensure the continued growth and stability of the country’s economy, preparing for an increasing demand for “the silver wave” is needed.
In addition to financial security, health security of older adults is another crucial concerned issue. The Royal Thai Government has been providing universal health coverage to all Thai citizens including older people. However, there are some gaps in services which need to be fulfilled.
The government is now developing the aged care standards and intermediate care system in order to enable older people to access standardized, affordable and seamless health care services. Then they will finally prolong healthy and independent living.
Additionally, creating an age-friendly environment both physical and social is also important to support elder healthy and independent living. In 2015, the government initiated a project on modifying age-friendly housing for poor and neglected older people and a project on creating age-friendly communities. In the future, as the demands and lifestyles of older people are changing, senior complexes and certified caregivers will also need to be considered.
It is obvious that the government alone is unable to provide support and assistance to meet the demands of older people. Therefore the panelists today will speak about some of the opportunities for the private sectors that arise from an aging society and how they view Thailand evolving in the coming decades.
On this note, I would like to congratulate and appreciate Kenan Foundation Asia for your effort and concern on aging issues. I am certain that, by our strengthened partnership, successfully preparing Thai society for an upcoming complete aged society is no longer difficult to achieve.
Finally, I would like to thank all honorable speakers and participants for your active participation to the conference. I wish all of you productive discussions and a successful result.