The International Workshop on Strengthening Stakeholder Cooperation in Promoting Active Ageing and Mental Health in ASEAN was held on November 18–19, 2020, organized by the Ministry of Health, Vietnam, together with the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The event brought together representatives from the ASEAN secretariat, government ministries of 10 ASEAN member states, international organizations, civil society organizations, the healthcare sector, and academia. The event was held in order to reaffirm the importance of collaboration among ASEAN member states in developing policy to support older people and to strengthen cooperation among various stakeholders in the region amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the workshop, Dr. Osuke Komazawa, special advisor to the president for healthcare and long-term care policy at the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), and Dr. Vu Cong Nguyen, deputy director of the Institute of Population, Health and Development (PHAD), made presentations on the AHWIN-related ERIA study, the “Longitudinal Survey of Aging and Health in ASEAN Countries.” This was the first longitudinal study targeting older persons in the Philippines and Vietnam and was designed to trace individuals who are aged 60 years or over for a period of time. The data obtained will enable researchers to assess the determinants of certain health outcomes and transitions in health status and the overall wellbeing of older persons in both countries.
Dr. Komazawa’s presentation highlighted the findings of the baseline study and pointed out the differences between the two countries when it came to the following variables: self-assessed health, oral health, sleep, activities of daily living (ADLs), and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). Dr. Vu, the principal investigator for the Vietnam study, presented the findings on mental health issues, including specific indicators such as sleep disorders, depression, and dementia. The percentage of older people answering that they were satisfied with their sleep was 82.1% in the Philippines while it was 56.5% in Vietnam. Although the scales measuring depression and dementia have yet to be validated in Vietnam, the results suggested that older people there show higher rates of symptoms of these mental health issues and that there is a need to scale up research to look into this issue further.
Dr. Komazawa also explained some of the policy recommendations from the baseline report of the longitudinal study in Vietnam, such as the promotion of blood pressure control, development of geriatric services, and increased usage of information technology for the dissemination of healthcare information.