Plan to boost services for elderly

Updated: 2011-12-27 23:11


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BEIJING - Chinese government issued a five-year plan Tuesday to boost social services for the elderly under the mounting pressure of an aging population of 178 million.

By 2015, the country expects to provide 30 beds in nursing homes and community care centers for every 1,000 elderly people, according to the plan announced by the State Council on its website.

The country now has a total of 178 million people over 60, accounting for 13.26 percent of the total population. It has become the only country in the world with an elderly population of more than 100 million, and the figure will increase by 3 percent annually, a State Council statement said.

The elderly population is estimated to reach 221 million in 2015 and 243 million in 2020, the statement said.

The country's social services have lagged behind the needs of the elderly, said Li Liguo, minister of civil affairs.

In 2010, the number of beds in nursing homes and community care centers for the aged totaled 3.2 million across China, or 18 beds for every 1,000. The ratio was lower than 50 to 70 beds per 1,000 in developed countries, Li said.

To meet the target in 2015 set by the plan, the country plans to add 3.4 million beds and renovate 30 percent of the current facilities, he said.

In next five years, new communities will be required to include care centers for the elderly, he said.

According to the plan, the country will work to transform some unused public buildings into nursing homes and encourage small hotels, villages, enterprises and hospitals to convert unused facilities into nursing homes.

In next five years, at least 50 percent of revenue from the state welfare lottery program will be spent on social services for the elderly, Li said.

The government will encourage enterprises and non-governmental organizations to invest in social service facilities for the elderly, he said.

The government will provide preferential policies of land use and credit to attract more investment in the sector, according to the plan.

Under the plan, the government will also help elderly people install barrier-free facilities in their residences.