China lacks enough elderly care facilities

Updated: 2011-08-24 21:53


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BEIJING - Elderly care facilities in China are falling far short of meeting growing demand, said a report submitted to the country's top legislature for review on Wednesday.

The number of available nursing home beds can accommodate only 1.8 percent of China's elderly population, while the availability of beds in developed countries can serve five to seven percent of the elderly population.

Li Jianguo, vice chairman and general secretary of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), made the remarks in his report on the implementation of a law protecting the rights and interests of the elderly.

Nursing facilities are even more scarce in rural areas, Li added.

China will increase the amount of nursing home beds to accommodate 3 percent of its elderly population by 2015, according to the country's five-year development program.

This means 3.4 million beds will have to be added in five years, Li said.

It is estimated that China requires approximately 10 million caregivers to meet the needs of its aging population. However, there are only 300,000 people currently working in the field, less than 100,000 of whom are professionally qualified, according to Li.

The report also said that there is an inadequate number of privately-run nursing homes, as the private sector is reluctant to invest in this area due to low returns.

Official statistics show that China now has more than 178 million people at or above the age of 60, or 13.26 percent of the country's total population.

Aging citizens will account for more than 30 percent of the country's total population by 2042, the report said.