A Japanese training provider and employment broker has appealed to the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation to support the creation of a standardised elderly care centre and training facility.
The request was made during a June 6 meeting between Yoshio Kondo, president of Procast Cambodia, and social affairs minister Vong Soth.
Touch Channy, director-general of the ministry’s General Department of Technical Affairs, said that Soth and Kondo discussed the prospects of care for the elderly, with the later sought ministry support for the establishment of a comprehensive eldercare training centre.
He noted the absence of formal eldercare centres in Cambodia but also highlighted the possibility of opening a training centre for eldercare education.
“Since ancient times, Cambodians have cared for their elderly parents. If there were no caregivers, pagodas served as a refuge for the elderly,” he explained. “We are currently examining the possibility of allowing our Japanese partners, with their extensive experience, to provide training assistance,” he said.
Channy emphasised the benefits of such training, primarily in terms of creating employment opportunities. He mentioned that while numerous care centres existed in Japan, these services were not free.
He said the Japanese company proposed training Cambodians in elderly care skills and the establishment of elderly care centres, which would adhere to Japanese standards. He added that the ministry had yet to respond to the request.
Tum Vira, executive director of HelpAge Cambodia, a local NGO which focuses on the rights of the aged, expressed optimism about the proposal.
“If a Japanese company have made the request, they will undoubtedly offer technical and financial aid. This would be highly beneficial for Cambodia,” he said.
Vira cautioned that the ministry may face difficulties in implementing the proposal due to technical and financial issues with the National Elderly Care Centre in Phnom Penh.
He noted the government’s previous stance was against the establishment of an elderly care centre, citing the Cambodian family tradition of children caring for their ageing parents. However, he stressed that such a centre could aid abandoned or abused elderly individuals.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Hun Sen also made mention of the traditional Khmer culture of children caring for their elderly parents and grandparents. He urged Cambodians to follow this tradition, although he appreciated that the Kingdom’s population was likely to age in the future, as suggested by the UNDP.
The 2019 census revealed that 1.38 million or approximately 8.9 per cent of Cambodia’s total population were elderly. Projections estimate an increase to 13 per cent by 2030, 16 per cent by 2040 and up to 23 per cent by 2050.