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|Delegates at the launch of the S-Health app|
Named S-Health, the app was officially launched on January 28 by the General Office for Population and Family Planning (GOPFP) under the Ministry of Health (MoH), the Vietnam Association of the Elderly, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with financial and technical support from UNFPA.
The “S” in S-Health stands for “Silver” for older persons, and also resembles the shape of Vietnam as a country, meaning that Vietnam’s elderly is the centre of the country’s strength, wisdom, and the sources of continued socioeconomic growth.
The S-Health app will provide information on the common diseases affecting older persons, how to maintain good and relevant nutrition, as well as how to take care for older persons through videos and pictures. It also offers information for older persons to prepare themselves for the prevention and responses to COVID-19.
It is updated regularly from the official information sources of the MoH and includes a function for older persons to monitor their health indicators daily such as blood pressure or blood sugar levels. Through the SOS button, older persons or their family members can call for an ambulance or emergency support. Additionally, the S-Health app provides a directory of facilities in the neighbourhood which offer healthcare services and equipment for older persons. Just by entering a keyword related to the desired area, users can peruse a list of qualified health facilities registered at the MoH. In the future, the app will connect GPS akin to a ride-hailing network.
Addressing the event, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Lan, deputy director general of the GOPFP said: “Vietnam is one of the countries with the fastest population ageing in Asia. The transition period from "ageing" to "aged population" is about 17-20 years. This creates many difficulties in developing policies and programmes for older persons. Many older persons are still facing difficulties and challenges in their lives and need more attention, care, and support from the government and communities.”
Vietnam has officially entered the "ageing phase" in 2011, and the number of older persons (aged 65 and above) account for 7 per cent of the total population. By 2036, Vietnam is projected to shift from “ageing” to “aged” society. The number of older persons is expected to increase from 7.4 million now to 23 million by 2053, accounting for 20 per cent of the total population.
Vietnam is one of the most rapidly ageing countries in the world. While it took a century or some decades for developed countries to transition to an ageing population – for instance France (115 years), Sweden (85 years), Australia (73 years), US (69 years), Canada (65 years), UK (45 years) – it is estimated to take only 20 years for Vietnam.
|Voice search is a preeminent feature of the S-Health application|
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic 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. It is clear that the fatality rate for older persons is higher, and for those over 80, it is five times higher than the global average.
The COVID-19 pandemic amplifies and highlights the vulnerabilities and specific needs of older persons. Older persons must be a priority in Vietnam’s efforts to overcome COVID-19 to ensure no one is left behind in humanitarian response as well as in development effort.
“As we step towards a better future we all want under the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, I believe that by joining forces and working together, we truly can make a difference and help promote meaningful responses to population ageing – responses based on values of non-discrimination and equality that advance the vision of a vigorous, happy, and healthy old age. The S-Health App will enable older persons to continue doing the things they value and prevent them from social isolation and care dependency,” said Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam at the event.
S-Health will go through a trial phase and adjustments of the app will be made towards the launch of the updated and final version on the Vietnam Day of the Older Persons in June 2021.