Young India will grow old in next five years

Young India will grow old in next five years
By Savita Verma in New Delhi
INDIA may lose the advantage of being a young nation in the next five years as the number of people over 60 years exceeds children below five years.
The warning has been given on the occasion of the World Health Day on Saturday, by the World Health Organisation ( WHO). The health organisation said ageing population necessitates that the country embark on a path to universalise healthcare.
“ We expect that in the next five years, ageing population over 60 years will outnumber children under five. This is because fertility in India is declining and the number of people over 60 years is increasing,” Dr Nata Menabde, WHO representative to India, said.
Dividends gained by being a young nation would be adjusted against these trends.
This makes it essential that the country increases routine immunisation to save children who die because of childhood infections which can be prevented. It is estimated that the population aged 60 years and above will grow from 77 million, 7.4 per cent of the total population in 2001, to 300 million, 17 per cent of the total population by 2050.
“ To enable the elderly to live full, enriching and productive lives, they need to remain connected to the world, staying among and in harmony with their beloved ones and others of all ages in their communities,” she said.
The transition to nuclear families is expected to lead to a crisis situation for the ageing population in India. The question people will then face is who should take care of the aged. The expected 300 million aged should not be seen as a burden on productive population. Rather, growing old should be seen as an opportunity to bring benefit to the lives of millions of children, young and adults, through their experience, knowledge and wisdom.
The WHO said that as of now, the government is not geared to meet the needs of the ageing population. It has failed even to provide universal healthcare.
“ We cannot talk of availability of services for everybody’s needs, more so for elderly,” Menabde said. What is more challenging is that fact that 75 per cent of the aged would be in rural areas in India. Thus, healthcare and job opportunities must be created in rural areas. For healthcare, the government must come out with a tax revenue- based universal healthcare system since private insurance is beyond the reach of many.
The ageing population must enjoy the right to shelter, nutrition and healthcare.
Ageing women are more vulnerable than men. Since women outlive men generally, women become more vulnerable and dependent after their husbands’ deaths, the UN panel said.


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