Kandy, 1 October 2016: To mark International Day of Older Persons, the National Elders’ Secretariat in Sri Lanka, with the Ministry of Social Empowerment and Welfare, launched a new website, www.srilankaeldercare.gov.lk, which was developed with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Sri Lanka.
The website also acts as a portal, providing information to the public on the available services for the elderly in Sri Lanka, such as a list of elders’ homes, day centres, and senior citizen communities, as well as opportunities for volunteers and interested donors. The overall objective and vision behind the new website and database portal, is to ensure that the people of Sri Lanka are taken towards active, productive and dynamic ageing through caring.
Officially launching the website in Kandy this morning, the Minister of Social Empowerment and Welfare, Hon. S. B. Dissanayake, said, “Sri Lanka has 1.7 million strong elderly population which is about 12.7% of the total population at present. Sri Lanka has cultural norms which make the families responsible for caring their elders. In this backdrop, we have less than 1% of the elderly population in about 306 elderly homes island wide. We have now decided to upgrade and modernize them. Further, due to the social and economic development which has led to unfortunate circumstances like isolation of elders, the need for high end elderly care centres has also come up.
“We provide monthly relief allowances to 400,000 elderly persons who depend on income below the poverty line. Through 2017 budget proposals, the government hopes to expand the provision of this allowance to 131,000 more identified eligible older persons.”
Commenting on Sri Lanka’s ageing population, Mr. Alain Sibenaler, Representative of UNFPA in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, stated, “In another 25 years, 1 in 4 people in Sri Lanka will be 60 years and above. It is imperative that we understand the opportunities and challenges that this population dynamic will bring about in the near future. It is also important that national strategies consider the social and economic implications of an ageing population. We at UNFPA, will continue to engage closely with the Government to support in capacity building and policy advocacy to ensure that every Sri Lankan can age in dignity.”
In addition to supporting the development of the website, UNFPA Sri Lanka also assisted in providing data-entry training sessions to officials employed in the Divisional Secretariats around the country. The project was carried out with the technical support of the University of Colombo.