Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Vietnam - Vietnamese people pay unhealthy price for longer life

In Vietnam, increased longevity is not necessarily indicative of good health. Photo by Nguyen Dinh Dang/VnExpress Photo Contest

“We are living longer, but we are living sicker."

In a recent report by the World Economic Forum, Vietnam ranked at the 56th out of 138 countries in terms of average life expectancy, showing that life expectancy in Vietnam has risen to 75.6 years due to economic growth and improved quality of life.

The world’s average life expectancy has increased by 21 years over the past 50 years while the life expectancy in Vietnam has soared by 33 years. But while Vietnamese are living longer, they’re spending more time sick and disabled.

The General Office for Population and Family Planning has calculated the country’s healthy life expectancy at 60 years. That means senior Vietnamese citizens are living with health problems for an estimated 15 years.

Increased longevity is not necessarily indicative of good health.

Official statistics show that people aged 60 or older currently represent about 10.5 percent of the country’s population of over 90 million, and 95 percent of them are living with non-infectious conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, osteoporosis and respiratory diseases.

“We are living longer, but we are living sicker. A senior is spending an estimated 2.4 days each month sick from chronic diseases or preventable illnesses,” said Duong Quoc Trong, head of the office.

Vietnam is grappling with a surge in non-transmissible diseases, said Nguyen Thanh Long, deputy health minister, adding that medical costs for the treatment of non-communicable diseases are 40-50 times higher than the costs of infectious diseases.

Official statistics show that non-communicable diseases, mostly cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes, cause 73 percent of deaths in Vietnam.

In Vietnam, about 160,000 people aged between 30 and 70 die of non-communicable diseases a year.

Lack of physical activity is the fourth common cause of deaths as it can increase the risk of non-transmissible diseases, according to a recent survey conducted by the Ministry of Health.

The survey also showed that Vietnamese people eat too much salt and not enough fruit and vegetables.

Government data also showed 70 percent of senior citizens don’t have a savings accounts and 60 percent are financially insecure and living in poverty.

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