By Reenassri Sekaran
Taiping selected as Malaysia’s first age-friendly city pilot project
The Perak city has been selected for the implementation of the first phase of the Age-Friendly City pilot project.
The state of Perak is expected to become the oldest state in terms of population age in Malaysia in 2020, when the elderly group reaches 385,000 or 14.9 per cent of the estimated 2.6 million total population.
According to data from the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the country would reach aged nation status by 2030 with the percentage of people aged 60 and above at 15.3 per cent.
The Health met up with Prof Dr Tengku Aizan Tengku Abd Hamid, Director and Founder of the Institute of Gerontology, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) to find out more about this project since MyAgeing Universiti Putra Malaysia was appointed as the main consultant.
How did this pilot project come about?
“We have been doing analysis on the ageing population in Malaysia for the past 15 years in Malaysia. When we did a project for the situation analysis for aging population in Perak, we shared our report with the Perak government.
“In one of our presentations, the local authorities were there listening and they were keen to do this age friendly pilot project. For the planning stage, we got a grant from UNDP because it’s a sort of continuation of our earlier project,” explained Dr Tengku Aizan.
When Dr Tengku Aizan and her team did the project for the aging population in Malaysia, they discovered that Perak is the oldest state in population age, and that Taiping holds many of the elderly population.
When they did a sharing of their research, the Taiping municipal council requested for them to be involved.
“The first phase which is the planning and research phase will take roughly one to one and a half years. If it all goes well from planning to implementation to evaluation, it will take approximately five years according to the WHO framework.”
As stated by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the government has received funds amounting to RM1.1 million from UNDP to begin a comprehensive study on Taiping’s current status as an age-friendly city based on international guidelines issued by the WHO.
“We are currently in the first phase of the project which involves going down to the ground to interview people and get information on whether the public are willing to do this.”
She said that they will also need to know what assets are present in the area that is part of this age friendly initiative.
“It involves a lot of stakeholder and town hall meetings. The planning component is very intensive because you have to interview all the stakeholders that’s involved, the elderly, the children, the youth and the businesses to actually understand from their perspective what constitute an age-friendly city.
“It’s a dream but you have to start from somewhere,” Dr Tengku Aizan hopes. — The Health
The government has received funds amounting to RM1.1 million from UNDP to begin a comprehensive study on Taiping’s current status as an age-friendly city based on international guidelines issued by the WHO.”
Taiping was recently named the best place for seniors as well as the most sustainable city in the country.
What is an age-friendly city?
‘Age-friendly’ is a concept that was developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In 2006, WHO brought together 33 cities in 22 countries for a project to help determine the key elements of the urban environment that support active and healthy ageing. The result was a framework for places to assess their ‘age-friendliness.’
Within that definition, the WHO identified eight domains that influence the health and quality of life of older people, including:
- Outdoor spaces and buildings
- Social participation
- Respect and social inclusion
- Civic participation and employment
- Communication and information
- Community support and health services