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9 Apr, 2012

China’s Over-65 Population Hits 123 Million


BEIJING, April 7 (Xinhua) — A total of 123 million Chinese were aged over 65 by the end of 2011, about 9.1 percent of the total population, the Health Aging Symposium announced Saturday.

Chinese seniors aged 80 or above are expected to take up 30 percent of the population aged 65 or above in 2050, and the ratio of working-aged Chinese to the country’s seniors will drop from 10:1 in 2000 to 2.8:1 in 2050, the symposium said.

According to the statistics provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people in the world aged over 60 has doubled since 1980, and by 2050, the number of people aged 80 or above will have reached 395 million, four times the current figure.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimated that in the next five years, the number of adults in the world aged 65 or above will outnumber children under the age of five for the first time, especially in developing countries.

France took 100 years to double its population aged above 65 from 7 percent to 14 percent, while countries such as China and Brazil only took 25 years to achieve the same growth, the UNFPA said.

Rao Keqin, secretary of the Party committee of Chinese Medical Association, pointed out that in developed countries, their societies age with economic development, and the GDP per capita is above 5,000 U.S dollars. “China, however, has become an aging society without realizing modernization nor a developed economy,” Rao said.

According to a survey done by the China Research Center on Aging in 2011, two thirds of the seniors above 60 are living with illness, with 33 million seniors partially disabled or totally disabled. “The aging process presents societies with enormous challenges related to economic structure and growth, health care and social security,” said Arie Hoekman, UNFPA Representative in China.

Governments need to respond to these challenges by promoting diversified support systems to ensure that families and communities can support the elderly to live healthy and active lives, he added.

Yin Li, Vice health Minister said at the symposium that China’s Ministry of Health will further provide basic health services to the older people to ensure their access to health care services. In the next five years, China will add 3.42 million more hospital beds for the elderly, encouraging all grassroots medical institutions to provide health services for older people and to monitor the health conditions of people aged 65 or above, Yin said.

World Health Day falls on April 7 every year, the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization. The topic of this year is Aging and health with the theme “Good health adds life to years.”