There are currently 1.53 million people aged 65 or over in the country, according to the preliminary report of the 2022 Population and Housing Census.
Their number is growing faster than the rate of population growth. The number of elderly people was 1.02 crore in 2011.
The recently released report by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) states that the average life expectancy in Bangladesh was 72.8 years in 2020, with an increase of 3.8 years from 69 in 2011.
He found that the number of elderly people has increased by 50.01% over the past 11 years, while the size of the population has only increased by 14.66%. In other words, the rate of increase in the number of elderly people is 3.41 times greater than population growth.
The report states that with the increase in the number of elderly people in the society, the demand for allocation in the health sector is also increasing to meet their health benefits and nutritional needs.
However, government allocation to the health sector has remained below 1% of GDP for decades.
Experts have raised questions in this regard while observing the International Day of Older Persons (October 1), saying that the trend of increasing number of elderly people in the country is alarming due to lack of proper initiative. to manage them.
They also said that older people in Bangladesh face economic, social and health vulnerability. They urged the government to increase public spending in the health sector by at least three times to ensure adequate treatment facilities for the elderly.
Dr Syed Abdul Hamid, a professor at the University of Dhaka’s Institute of Health Economics, told The Business Standard: “The fact that the economic and health benefits for the elderly have not increased alongside to the increase in the number of elderly people is worrying. If initiatives are not taken for the health benefits of the elderly, it could become a burden on the country in the future. »
He said that our hospitals do not have adequate medical facilities for those who have contributed their whole lives to the country.
“If some young people could be trained to take the elderly to hospitals and provide them with suitable services, this could also ensure their employment,” he added.
He added: “The government currently spends less than 1% of GDP on health services, it should be increased to 3%.
Mohamamad Mainul Islam, Professor of Population Science at the University of Dhaka, said: “According to government policy, people aged 60 and over are considered elderly and their number is 9.28% of the population. total population (over 2.5 crore). the number of people over 65 is 5.88% of the total population.
He said that after the age of 60, medical expenses increase due to people’s more frequent health problems.
“Many old people do not have enough savings to support themselves. The government allowance for social security program is also less. In this regard, plans could be formulated to increase people’s working capacity old.”
The report mentions that there is a need to reorient the existing institutional arrangements for the delivery of health services and to increase investments – both financial and human resources – in the development of a health care service system. for the elderly and palliatives (EPHC) appropriate.
He proposed to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to promote multi-sectoral collaboration with other ministries, the private sector, NGOs, CSOs, etc. to provide enhanced personal health care (EPHC).
Establishment of palliative care units in all medical university hospitals, introduction of modern drugs and advanced equipment in all medical university hospitals, capacity development of health personnel were also recommended in palliative care.
In view of the increase in personal expenditure per capita, the planning commission recommended the introduction of a special card for the elderly in order to reduce health expenditure in hospitals.
According to the report, the demographic dividend would start to decline in 2035 and Bangladesh would start transitioning from an “ageing” society in 2029 and it would start becoming an “aged” society in 2047.
The potential support ratio – the number of people of working age (15-64) needed to support one elderly person (65+) – has fallen and is expected to fall even faster in the future, adds the report.
Historical data revealed that around 20 people of working age supported an elderly dependent in 1960 and that number fell to 13 in 2019.
The population census found a support ratio of 11 in 2022 which would shrink to six in 2040 and three by 2065.