UNFPA supports Vietnam protect older people from COVID-19

While the coronavirus spreads amongst persons of all ages, older persons and those with underlying medical conditions are at an increasing risk of developing severe conditions and having higher death rates from COVID-19.
January 15, 2021 | 07:38
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UNFPA supports Vietnam protect older people from COVID 19
Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam speaks at the ceremony. Source: UNFPA in Vietnam

At the signing ceremony held on January in Hanoi, Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam handed over the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and hygiene items to Pham Thi Hai Ha, Deputy Director of the Social Protection Department, Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and representatives from the Vietnam Association of the Elderly and HelpAge International in Vietnam to support caregivers and social care workers providing services to older persons.

It is to ensure good preparedness and effective respond to COVID-19. The PPE will be distributed to social protection centers and community caregivers in high-risk cities and provinces, namely Hanoi, Hai Duong, Da Nang and Quang Nam.

COVID-19 has had devastating effects on older people and put a spotlight on the health and rights of older persons in society. While the virus spreads among persons of all ages, older persons and those with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk of developing severe conditions and having higher death rates from the pandemic. Older persons living in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, must be fully protected from infection and adverse outcomes of COVID-19. Older persons who live alone may face barriers to obtaining accurate information, food, medication, and other essential supplies during quarantine conditions and community outreach is required.

As one of the fastest-ageing populations in the world, with the number of older persons aged 65 and above accounting for 7.7 per cent of the total population, Vietnam has done an exemplary job in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic so far. However, at this juncture, it is critical to prepare the country well to ensure dedicated and uninterrupted care and social security for the elderly to protect them from the pandemic, paying special attention to those elderly living alone, those in facilities, and those with disabilities.

UNFPA supports Vietnam protect older people from COVID 19
Protective equipment provided to support the elderly against COVID-19. Source: UNFPA in Vietnam

“COVID-19 is giving us excruciating challenges by amplifying the vulnerabilities of old people. It is clear that the fatality rate for older people is higher, and for those above age 80, it is five times higher than the global average. Therefore, older people must be a priority in dealing with COVID-19 to ensure no one is left behind in humanitarian response as well as in development effort,” said Kitahara at the handover ceremony.

Addressing the handover ceremony, Pham Thi Hai Ha, Deputy Director of the Social Protection Department, Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs highly appreciated UNFPA's support and affirmed, “Protecting people’s health, particularly older persons’ health care and support during the COVID-19 epidemic is the top priority of the Government. The protection of health workers and caregivers must be also prioritised as critical and lifesaving, and they should be provided with personal protective equipment.”

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