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Japan, WB support community-based care for the elderly in Vietnam

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – The World Bank and its partners on September 29 launched a project aimed at reducing the economic and health impact on older persons in Vietnam, under a US$2.75-million grant, funded by the Government of Japan through the Japan Social Development Fund.

Implemented by HelpAge International in collaboration with the Association of the Elderly in Vietnam, the project will support the scale-up of a community-based model for elderly care that promotes economically productive, healthy and active ageing. 

It is estimated that 27,000 people in six provinces will benefit from the project’s interventions, with 70% of them being elderly people.

According to the World Bank country director for Vietnam Carolyn Turk, as one of the most rapidly aging countries in the world, Vietnam will see the 65+ age group increase by 2.5 times by 2050.

“The country needs a different approach to make health and social care systems fit for a growing older population. We are pleased to support Vietnam in putting in place innovative, cost-effective and affordable interventions to provide long-term senior care,” Turk said.

A core activity of the project is to expand the Intergenerational Self-Help Club (ISHC) network by building at least 180 new clubs. 

This model, first implemented in Vietnam in 2006 and whose effectiveness has been recognized by the government and included in national policies, adopts a holistic approach to meet the multiple needs of older persons.

These self-managed clubs, which host 50-70 members, run a variety of inter-generational activities to help members boost incomes, improve physical and mental well-being and know their rights. 

Through a network of volunteers, they also offer home-care services to those who are largely housebound including social care, personal care and related care.

“The model, by its name, is bringing generations together, closing the gap of age differences,” said Takaya Shimizu, First Secretary of the Japan Embassy to Vietnam. “And more importantly, with the “self-help” characteristic, the model is helping the community to help themselves in terms of social bonding, income security or health and care.”

As of now, 3,500 ISHCs have been established covering 61 of the 63 provinces in Vietnam but quality and coverage vary. The innovation of this project, which will run until September 2024, is that it will help fill some of these gaps and also facilitate better linkage with Government service providers.  

HelpAge International in Vietnam, which is implementing the project, is an international NGO with 10 years of experience in advocacy, training, campaign and intervention in older person issues, aging adaptation and community development.

The Japan Social Development Fund was established in 2000 by the Government of Japan and the World Bank to provide grants in support of community-driven development and poverty reduction projects that empower the poorest and most vulnerable groups not reached by other programs and improve their lives through direct benefits.

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