Participants in a webinar discuss COVID-19 and its effects on the elderly. JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jan. 29 (IPS) – Internationally, COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on the elderly and raised concerns in the Asia-Pacific region, home to more than half of the world’s aging population.
“Rising inequalities have led to increasing poverty and inadequate access to health and social protection services, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Bjorn Andersson, UNFPA regional director for the Asia-Pacific region. He spoke at a webinar about a recent policy review in Vietnam, Australia, Thailand and Kazakhstan.
“Older women, who make up most of the sector (some are over 80 years old), often bear the brunt of old age and poverty. Older men tend to have more financial security because of their lifelong income, “Andersson said, noting that older people were more affected by the COVID-19 virus, leading to mortality and comorbidity. He pointed out that this scenario also disrupted the achievements of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) program of action and the 2030 Agenda.
Study chairman Keizo Takemi, chairman of the Asian Forum of MPs on Population and Development (AFPPD), said that while most of the low-income countries in Asia were not massively affected by the crisis, it was an “unfortunate reality” that some sovereign nations tend to be exclusive and only focus on their people when it comes to health interventions such as vaccination, inoculation and dispensing systems. ”
In view of the limited resources, a global governance structure must be developed in order to create an accessible development and allocation system in a fair and efficient manner.
Each country studied had different social problems – and had found different solutions for its elderly population during the pandemic.
Dr. Nguyen Van Tien, a former Vietnamese parliamentarian and vice chairman of the AFPPD, said few elderly people in Vietnam have pensions. In Hanoi, for example, many needed help with their daily routines, but there were few human resources to look after them.
Many, especially women, who live in rural areas have been lonely and isolated in old age, as well as abuse and violence.
“It was critical that older people be made aware of themselves in emergency situations – older people are the most vulnerable because of their age and their inability to handle themselves and take full care of themselves, as well as the lack of adequate social care during disasters for death, ”said Van Tien.
Independent consultant Hadley Rose presented data for Australia and Thailand.
In Australia, around one million elderly people received elderly care at home or in a community. It used technology – a COVID-19 call line, to alleviate boredom, loneliness, or feelings of isolation during lockdown periods and to deal with the pandemic.
Telemedicine services, a counseling center by phone or video chat, were mainly available to the elderly (70 years and older). Visiting the clinic for medical advice is the last option, and a “COVID Safe” app has been set up for smartphones to track contacts. Elderly people are encouraged to use the app to determine if they have come into contact with a COVID-19 positive person. When the vaccine becomes available, priority will be given to the elderly and elderly carers, she said.
In contrast, the elderly in Thailand lived mainly with or close to their relatives.
“While this is a good way to limit the spread of COVID-19, this facility is putting pressure on families as some breadwinners in the families have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic,” Rose said.
Thailand adopted its second national action plan for older people in 2001 and will come into effect by 2021. Since home health care was not common, the country relied on 50,000 volunteer medical workers to support the homes of the elderly.
In March and April 2020, around one million healthcare volunteers managed to conduct COVID-19 screening for eight million households across the country.
Svetlana Zhassymbekova presented the result of the legislative and political reviews for the Republic of Kazakhstan. According to a UN Policy Brief, responses from community-level volunteer networks in Kazakhstan ensured that social support for older people affected by COVID-19 is a best practice. Kazakhstan has more than 200 volunteer organizations funded by the national party. These organizations delivered various humanitarian packages.
The packages included protection and humanitarian aid for the elderly in order to restore families. When people lived alone, they were provided with an electronic device that they could use to access information and seek help when needed.
Professor Keizo Takemi, chairman of the AFPPD, said the discussions about the elderly were vital. Eighty percent of the deaths caused by COVID-19 were people aged 70 and over. He called on the parliamentarians to serve as “catalysts for change (work) to a more efficient handling of COVID-19 and to continuously protect people from infections”.
The Research Report: Legislative and Policy Reviews of Aging were conducted with the support of the Japan Trust Fund, and UNFPA, APDA and AFPPD launched the project with a comprehensive review of the guidelines in four countries, namely Vietnam, Australia, Thailand and Kazakhstan.
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