BANGKOK, 1 October 2014 Dr. Narong Sahamethapat, the Permanent Secretary for Public Health has urged all sectors to realize the importance of elderly care, in his speech to mark the International Day of Older Persons on 1st October.
In his address, Dr. Narong cited a research recently conducted by Mahidol University as saying there are currently 9.93 million elders, accounting for 15 per cent of total population in Thailand. However, only 5 per cent of them are healthy and have self-care ability while the rest of 9 million have congenital diseases e.g. diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and osteoarthritis. 200,000 of them lack self-care competence and are also immovable from beds. In addition, there are around 800,000 elders or 8 per cent who have to stay on their own at home.
The Ministry of Public Health, consequently, has provided a better elderly-care system focusing on the integration between internal and external organizations related to the matter including the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, local administrative organizations and communities. The improving system emphasizes a long-term care service which is consistent with local culture and way of life in order to encourage the elders to live happily with their own families in hometown. Meanwhile, all necessary facilities can be accessed locally and closely to their accommodations.
Besides, the ministry will establish special clinics for physical and mental consultants and health screening in central hospitals, community hospitals as well as general hospitals. Moreover, buildings should be reconstructed or renovated to become ‘Universal Design’ by installing horizontally-sitting toilets with handles, and replacing stairs with ramps.
In addition, the ministry will promote the establishment of long-term elderly care model in each community with the inter-organizational operation. The system will create elderly-demographic information center both of healthy and impaired ones. Meanwhile, multi-professional staff with voluntary team and the elders’ family will visit them at home. Currently, the project has progressed to cover 2000 districts but needs to increase to 2300 districts and eventually cover all by 2021.
Furthermore, the ministry also manages a pilot project called ‘elderly-friendly city’ in 2 areas namely Pattaya and Nonthaburi’s municipality to be launched during 2014-2016 in order to respond to the need of elders, impaired and disabled people. Not only facilities which all elders can utilize universally such as wheel chairs, parking, buses and hospitals, but the ministry will also do the increase in their higher earnings. Importantly, they will also be encouraged to participate in community activities so that they can be happier and recognised in the society.