Minister of Social Affairs Vong Soth yesterday announced that the ministry plans to expand the number of Older People’s Associations (OPAs) – a sort of elderly support group – by nearly 400 to meet the needs of the senior citizens in the country.
There are currently 321 OPAs across 11 provinces, with the ministry planning to establish an additional 394 next year. “There are still elderly people who need care because they do not have a family,” said Kim Vuthy, director of one association in Phnom Penh.
To be able to participate in the OPAs, people need to be retired or be at least 60 years old. In 2013, there were an estimated 1.1 million elderly in the Kingdom, but that number is expected to rise to 1.7 million by 2030.
Vuthy said the OPAs provide a chance for the elderly to interact with other people, and also to receive food and medical care. “When they come to the association, they don’t feel lonely,” he said.
Tum Vira, executive director of HelpAge Cambodia, said his organisation conducted research on the effectiveness of the OPAs last month, with HelpAge International, and based on the preliminary results, the associations were found to help seniors stay more active.
The full research is expected to be presented in December, but Vira yesterday insisted the associations “play a significant role”.