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Five-Year Plan to Cope with Pressures of Aging Society
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China plans to boost social welfare and medical services for its senior citizens as pressures of coping with an aging population increase.


A national program on the aging population for the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-2010) was issued by the China National Committee on Aging with the approval of the State Council on Thursday.


Li Bengong, a senior official with the committee, said that although welfare payments and medical subsidies for retired people have been significantly increased over the past five years, demand has increased even more.


China's elderly population is expected to hit 174 million, or 12.78 percent of its entire population, by 2010, a big increase from the current figure of 143 million.


According to the program, China will integrate more seniors in poor areas into the rural cooperative medical care system and the old-age pension system, and is committed to solving problems for retired people with financial difficulties.


The pressure of the aging population in rural areas is very noticeable. About 85.57 million old people in rural areas, 65.82 percent of the country's total, are not covered under the country's social welfare system, nor do they have pensions or adequate medical care.


China plans to increase the number of beds in homes for the elderly by 800,000 in the cities and by 2.2 million in rural areas over the next five years.


At present, China has 380,000 homes for the elderly with 1.2 million beds. This means that 1,000 elderly people compete for 8.6 beds, far less than the average 50 to 70 beds in developed countries.


Under the program, governments at various levels are required to increase financial support for infrastructure projects for elderly people, as well as cultural and educational activities.


By 2010, 10,000 more seniors’ colleges and schools will be built.


The central government will also encourage domestic private enterprises and foreign capital to invest in services for the elderly so as to optimize and diversify its investment structure.


(Xinhua News Agency September 22, 2006)

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