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70% of the people aged 55 years and older from the Republic of Moldova have a limited chance to age actively and healthy

Chisinau – the Demographic Research Center in partnership with the Ministry of Labour,Social Protection and Family and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, launched the Active Ageing Index in the Republic of Moldova.

The Active Ageing Index measures the current situation of people aged 55 years and older in theEU countries. Moldova is one of the first non-EU countries to develop this Index.

The study showed that active and healthy ageing is not accessible for more than 70% of the people aged 55 years and older from the Republic of Moldova. The Active Ageing Index scores only 21.1 points, which is 7 points less than the EU average (33.9points), and twice lower than the target objective of 57.5 points, set for all countries.

The country has significant delays in all areas and for all components of the Active Ageing Index. Thus, Moldova has the lowest employment rate among people ofpre-retirement age of 55-59/60-64 (49% and 27.6%, respectively), while the EU average is 62.2% and 31.5%, respectively.

Only one in 10 elderly people participates actively in the social life. One in two elderly people is deprived of the possibility to have an independent, healthy and safe life,while in EU only 1/3 of the elderly are found in such a situation.

Moldova has a verylow capacity and inappropriate environment for active ageing. One of thereasons is the lower life expectancy, if compared with the EU countries (by almost 10 years lower). Other factors include the low level of education andmental condition of the elderly (51.1% and 62%, respectively), low level ofsocial connection of this category of people (32.2%), unlike the elderly in theEU countries (49%). The elderly in the Republic of Moldova have limited IT skills (2.9%, compared with the EU average of 40.8%) and limited life long learning opportunities (0.3% compared to 4.5% in the EU countries).

There are significant differences of the Active Ageing Index and its components for women and men. The elderly women are more disadvantaged than men, and face more intense material, financial and physical vulnerabilities. The Active Ageing Index for women is only25.7 points, while for men it is 29.2 points.

When presenting the research results, Mariana Buciuceanu-Vrabie, scientific researcher, coordinator at the Demographic Researches Center, stated that the barriers to active ageing were caused by the poor functioning of all areas of the social life, failure to ensure a decent living, limited opportunities to participate and get involved in the labour market and in the society, lack of personal security, and poor health condition of the population. "In countries with the highest scores, such as Sweden (44.9), Denmark (40.3), Netherlands (40.0), United Kingdom (39.7) and Finland (39.0) the elderly are much more integrated in the labour market. In addition, the elderly from these countries participate more actively as volunteers in the social life (17% on the average) and in politics (31.4%). 8 in 10 elder people have a good material, financial and healthcare support, thus enjoying an independent, healthy and safe life", stressed the researcher.

A set of recommendations were formulated on the basis of the research results, focusing mainly on three areas: (1) health, by preventing diseases and providing quality, affordable and equitable services; (2) participation, by ensuring the employment of the elderly and developing flexible retirement conditions that would allow people to work for longer periods of time, either full-time orpart-time, promoting and encouraging the participation of the elderly in thecommunity life, and community-based and volunteer activities, and developingongoing learning opportunities; (3) security, by enhancing the securityof the living environment, including making adjustments to meet the needs ofthe elderly (infrastructure, transport, buildings, etc.), and preventing violence, abuses and discrimination of the elderly.

During the public discussions on these recommendations, the Deputy Minister of Labour, Social Protection and Family, Anastasia Oceretnîi stated that the priority of the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family was to improve the social situation for the whole population, including the elderly. The integration and participation of the elderly in the social, economic and cultural life of the society, and strengthening the solidarity between the generations ensure the balance betweenthe society, economy and demographic transformations. Hence, the Elderly Mainstreaming Program and the Action Plan implementing the 2014-2016 Roadmap were developed for this purpose. In addition, an Employment Strategy is being developed for the period of 2016-2020, which would envisage a number of actions, aimed at keeping the elderly on the labor market or helping them find a job. The Ministry initiated, with UNFPA support, the evaluation of the implementation of Ageing Mainstreaming Plan. The evaluation results will inform the suggested actions for the 2017-2019 Plan, aligned to the needs of the elderly. The framework methodology was developed, envisaging instruments and techniques for mainstreaming ageing in the sector policies.

Along the same line, Natalia Cojohari, UNFPA Moldova Assistant Representative stated that ageing could not be regarded anymore as an issues related to the pension and social protection fund only, calling for a pro-active approach that would make rapid ageing the responsibility of all sectors. "Moldova is one of the youngestcountry in Europe, which is ageing the quickest. UNFPA will continue supportingthe Government of the Republic of Moldova to cope with the existing dynamics by exchanging the good practices with other countries undergoing similar processes, and by supporting active ageing and intergenerational solidarity", stressed the UNFPA Moldova Assistant Representative.