United Nations Population Fund

As societies become older, broad-based responses are needed, ministry officials say at regional UNFPA meeting in Kyiv 19 september 2013

Preparing societies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia for population ageing requires broad-based responses involving a range of government structures, civil society and academia, ministry officials and experts from 12 countries in the region concluded at a meeting organized by UNFPA and UNDESA in Kyiv on 17-19 September 2013.

In the sphere of social policy, the Ukrainian Government took a number of important steps, but we recognize the need for further reforms in this regard, aimed at providing better social services for older persons as well as widening the access to these services for all population groups, said Lidia Drozdova, Ukraines Deputy Minister of Social Policy.

Saodat Kamalova, the Director of the Central Asian Gerontological Centre highlighted the need to promote social responsibility starting from childhood, especially with regard to healthy living: There is a strong need for the national policy and strategy in this sphere, and also for consistent joint efforts by governments, NGOs and international organizations to implement them successfully.

The lack of coordination and cooperation mechanisms among the different ministries and other governmental structures concerned, and the absence of effective civil society engagement are major stumbling blocks for developing policies on ageing and the implementing of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing at the national level, stressed Nuzhat Ehsan, UNFPA Representative in Ukraine.

As a result of low birth rates and the emigration of young people, many countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia are experiencing rapid population ageing. In Ukraine, for example, a third of the population will be aged 60 or older by 2051, according to government estimates.

The 2002 Madrid Plan of Action offers an agenda for addressing population ageing, with a focus on advancing health and well-being into old age and ensuring enabling and supportive environments. But implementation at the national level is complicated by a range of factors, including insufficient coordination and cooperation across the different sectors involved.

Meeting participants agreed on the need to establish multi-sectoral working groups or other coordination mechanisms responsible for developing, implementing and monitoring national policies, programmes and plans related to various aspects of population ageing. It was stressed that civil society representatives need to be included in these mechanisms.

Establishing such multi-stakeholder working groups can be an important first step towards developing comprehensive action plans on population ageing, Ms. Ehsan said.

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