Exploring Solutions to Taiwan’s Aging Society

In 2018, Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior reported that 14% of the island’s population was over the age of 65. That rate is rapidly increasing and is expected to reach 20% or higher by 2026, which could make Taiwan the world’s first “super-aged society.” Such a prospect is alarming, given the vast amount of energy and resources that would be needed to provide adequate care for the growing number of elderly.

In order to address this pressing issue, AmCham Taipei hosted the 2019 Taipei Healthy Aging Forum, held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on September 27. The forum brought together representatives from the public and private sectors, as well as civil society organizations, to discuss the various challenges associated with an aging society and how to effectively confront these challenges.

In his keynote speech at the forum, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, a former trauma surgeon, noted that Taiwan’s rate of aging is one of the highest in the world. Within 24 years, the number of Taiwanese over the age of 65 jumped from 7% to 14% of the general population. Ko emphasized the importance of accurate government statistics in formulating good elder-care policy, as well as the need to reform Taiwan’s pension system so as to reduce the length of time that retirees are dependent on public resources.

Most of the event’s speakers focused on the dire need for a public health framework that includes holistic, integrated approaches to long-term care for Taiwan’s elderly. Dr. Yeh Yen-Po, director of Changhua County’s Department of Health, introduced the program that his department has implemented, which incorporates improving and promoting long-term care services, encouraging healthy living practices, and increasing community involvement. This program has created a more aging-friendly environment in Changhua and can serve as a model for other cities and counties across the island.

Another topic that speakers addressed was the issue of frailty, the physiological decline that the body undergoes as a result of aging, and how it is affected by a number of environmental and social factors that can be controlled by strong healthcare policies. Participants from industry stressed the important role of public-private partnerships in creating effective long-term care solutions that utilize predictive, preventive approaches, rather than the current model of procedural intervention. Vincent Shih, assistant general counsel at Microsoft and general manager of Microsoft Greater China’s Corporate, External, and Legal Affairs Leadership team, gave a presentation that described how the use of big data and technology can improve the quality of health services for the elderly.

The forum included two discussion panels moderated by Dr. Kang Jaw-Jou, vice president of National Yang-Ming University, and Professor Jennifer Wang, COO of GLORIA and chair of National Cheng-Chi University’s Risk Management and Insurance Department, respectively. Panelists included Dr. Wang Ying-yue, director general of the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Health Promotion Administration; Dr. Mark Tennyson, executive director and regional head of Value, Access and Policy for Amgen JAPAC; and Tim Shields, general manager and CEO of Cigna Taiwan Life Insurance. AmCham Taipei President William Foreman provided brief closing remarks.

The forum’s platinum sponsor was Amgen. Cigna was the silver sponsor.

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