Wed, 22 Nov 2000

Plan of Action for Elderly launched

JAKARTA (JP): The National Plan of Action for the Elderly was launched here on Tuesday with the aim of improving the welfare of the older population of Indonesia, the total of which in five decades is expected to be almost equal to those under 24-years- old.

The Plan of Action, formulated jointly by the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) and other experts, outlines seven broad strategies to deal with the elderly and also make them more productive.

The strategy includes establishing and strengthening institutions that take care of elderly people by incorporating various courses, training and schooling to increase the human resource quality of the elderly.

Attention would also be given to the quality of life of the elderly by finding ways and means for them to increase their social function.

Improving the treatment of abandoned and troubled older people through mapping, a social security net and better health services was also highlighted along with information dissemination to enhance family and society support for elderly people.

The Minister's Secretary Wibowo told journalists here that the plan was drafted due to the predicted increase of the elderly in comparison to the total population.

But he pointed out that the Plan of Action only provides a policy on the macro level, not for direct implementation.

"We leave it up to each department, regional administration and society in general as to how to carry out the program," Wibowo said.

The United Nations defines the elderly as those aged above 65 years-old in developed countries and above 60 years-old in the developing countries.

"The increasing life expectancy has resulted in an increase in the number of older people in Indonesia," Wibowo said.

UNFPA data notes that Indonesian life expectancy has increased from about 54 years for women and 51 years for men in 1975-1980 to approximately 67 years and 63 years in 1995-2000.

These figures are predicted to rise further to around 79 and 75 years-old fifty years from now.

The UNFPA estimates that there are presently about 20 million elderly people here, or 8 percent of the total population. The total number is expected to double by 2030 and triple by 2050.

By 2050, the number of elderly people in Indonesia will be almost equal to the total number of younger people aged five to 24 years-old.

"The elderly may not cause problems now but within five to 10 years, as their numbers increase, we have to think about a support mechanism and how to empower them so they won't become a burden," Wibowo said.

"Problems may arise in providing the elderly with jobs as unemployment numbers are still high. The limited budget is also another problem. But there must be some way to avoid them from becoming a burden and they can still be empowered," he added. (hdn)