‘Iran to have oldest population in region by 2050’

September 28, 2019

TEHRAN – Iran will be home to the largest aging population in the region by the next three decades due to the large proportion of citizens aged over 35 years who are expected to be over 65 years old by 2050, the deputy health minister said.

Alireza Raeisi made the remarks on the occasion of October 1st, International Day of Older Persons, IRNA reported on Saturday.

The International Day of Older Persons highlights the important contributions that older people make to society and raise awareness of the opportunities and challenges of ageing in today’s world.

Between 2017 and 2030, the number of persons aged 60 years or over is projected to grow by 46 percent (from 962 million to 1.4 billion) globally outnumbering youth, as well as children under the age of 10. 

Moreover, this increase will be the greatest and most rapid in the developing world. Population ageing is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the 21st century.

Iran will have the highest rate of elderly citizens by the next thirty years, therefore, the Ministry of Health is committed to raise awareness, promote culture, and implement more care programs in this regard, Raeisi explained.

“We have controlled mortality under age five, and life expectancy increased by 20 years, however, delay in marriage and childbearing, and the gap between the first child and the second one are issues that need to be addressed.”

Raeisi also said that many disabilities occur in old ages roots back to one's childhood and adulthood; so providing health services to youth can help improve the health of the elderly.

“Over the past four decades, life expectancy has increased from 50 years to more than 70 years, 21.4 years for men and 23.4 years for women.”

According to the statistics, elderly constitute 9.26 percent of the country’s population which will reach up to 30 percent over the next three decades, he added.

“At the present time, northern Gilan province has the highest rate of elderly citizens while Sistan-Baluchestan province hosts the lowest population of old citizens in the country.

Meanwhile, aging population is steadily rising in Alborz and Mazandaran provinces,” he stated.

Elderly women outnumber elderly men by a ratio of 100 to 97.6, he said, adding, while the economic participation rate of the elderly is about 12.2 percent.

In Iran, older men are far more likely to be married than their female counterparts, as some 89 percent of the elderly men and 44.7 percent of elderly women are married and live with their spouses, he noted.

He went on to say that 26.5 percent of senior-led households live alone and more than half of female-headed households are elderly.

According to Raeisi, “94 percent of Iranian seniors are covered by social insurance and 31 percent are under supplemental insurance coverage. The need for hospitalization for the elderly is 2 times that of ordinary people. 

Elderly spend most of their time on self-care, rest, housework and religious activities, with 12 percent of whom having a job.

Cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, kidney failure and cancers are the leading cause of death among the old population, respectively.

The prevalence of hypertension in those over the age of 60 is about 35 percent.”

He went on to say that “11 percent of the elderly are affected by diabetes, with less than 40 percent receiving appropriate services in this regard. 

While hyperlipidemia infected 33 percent of the senior citizens; 60 percent of whom are receiving medical care. 

About 36 percent of them are overweight, 22 percent obese, and 4 percent lean. 

Also, 56 percent are physically inactive and 21 percent of have a history of smoking.”

Raeisi also explained that “60 percent of the people aged over 60 years have dental and oral problems, while 36 percent of them are suffering from Alzheimer’s, 14 percent of whom referred to physicians. Also, 82 percent of the seniors are satisfied with their lives.”

Reason behind decreasing working-age population

According to the data released by the National Organization for Civil Registration, comparing past three years, some 1,366,509 infants were born in the country, whose births were registered last year, while 1,487,913 births occurred a year before it, and 1,528,053 births have been recorded in the Iranian calendar year 1395 (March 2016-March 2017), a difference of roughly 100,000 per year.

A major contributing factor to this trend has been diminishing fertility rates in recent decades, further compounded by longer lifespans.

Moreover, socioeconomic factors led to fertility rate decrease and reproductive behavior in the country, including urbanization, education, financial issues, first marriage age, as well as increased access to family planning services along with increased time gap between the first born and marriage.

Between the Iranian calendar years of 1376 (March 1996-March 1997) to 1395 (March 2016-March 2017), the average age at first marriage for females increased from 19.8 to 23.0 and for males increased from 23.6 to 27.4.

National document on older persons prepared

Elsewhere in his remarks, Raeisi said that the national document on older persons, the roadmap showing the way for better planning for the elderly, will be unveiled by October 1st during a conference to be held in this regard.

The document enhances the coordination and collaboration of related bodies and assign them activities, he added.

Non-medical service delivery, designing health care centers based on the elderly needs, updating service packages, active participation in osteoporosis control, monitoring mental health and nutrition of the elderly, designing tool to screen bone density and fractures, providing them treatment services at home, and elderly-friendly pharmacy were among the Ministry's programs for this part of the society.

 International Day of Older Persons

By 2050, 2 billion people, over 20 percent of the world’s population, will be 60 or older, with Asia as the region with the largest number of older persons, and Africa facing the largest proportionate growth.

With this in mind, enhanced attention to the particular needs and challenges faced by many older people is clearly required.

On December 14, 1990, the United Nations General Assembly (by resolution 45/106) designated October 1 the International Day of Older Persons.

The 2019 theme is aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 10 (SDG 10) and focuses on pathways of coping with existing and preventing future old age inequalities. SDG 10 sets to reduce inequality within and among countries, and aims to "ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome," including through measures to eliminate discrimination, and to "empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status."

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