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Thinking ahead─Control Yuan 2017 Workshop on the Human Rights of Older Persons

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Thinking ahead─Control Yuan 2017 Workshop on the Human Rights of Older Persons

There are now approximately 3.2 million people over the age of 65 in Taiwan, which takes up 13.55% of the entire population. It is estimated that Taiwan will turn into an aged society in 2018, and a hype-aged society by 2026, with over 20% of the population over the age of 65. When it is 2046, one third of the population will be made up of older people. Statistics have shown that older people may, on average, experience some sort of disability for as long as 7 years. In 2014, there were 750,000 people with disabilities and by 2020, the number will rise to 860,000. These numbers mean that, in the near future, the majority of our national health care insurance will be used on older people and will require a large welfare expenditure. It is indeed an important policy issue for the government to ensure both the dignity and quality of life of the older population.

The Control Yuan organized the 2017 Workshop on the Human Rights of Older Persons on September 29, which brought together practitioners, scholars and government representatives for their insights into this matter. In her opening remarks, President Chang Po-ya pointed out that the ROC ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2014 and have since synchronized with its international developments. As not everyone ages well, it is likely that we all may lose some abilities. The need to preserve older people’s dignity, provide financial security, tackle dementia, integrate the service networks of long-term care, replenish the number of caregivers and secure the financial resources for social welfare, are all urgent issues to be tackled.

An important mandate of the Control Yuan is to monitor the national implementation of international human rights instruments by the government, and that includes the CRPD. In recent years, the Control Yuan has completed several investigation reports on the violation of older people’s human rights and the result of the Long-Term Care Plan. Based on these reports, corrective measures had been proposed to improve on these deficits. There is always room for improvement and the Control Yuan hopes to further protect older people’s rights by exercising its statutory powers and working hand in hand with the society at large.

The 2017 Workshop attracted over 230 participants. The four panel discussions were presided over by Members Chen Hsiao-hung, Jane Y.W. Jiang, Bau Tzong-ho, Teresa J.C. Yin and Chen Ching-tsai, and were followed by other presenters from the academia, medical and social welfare sectors, and the government. Special guest speakers include Ms. Kate Swaffer, chair and CEO of Dementia Alliance International and veteran actress Ms. Tan Ai-chen, who shared their experience living with dementia and the role as a caregiver. These stories added a moving touch to the workshop.

At the closing ceremony, Vice President and Convener of the Human Rights Protection Committee Sun Ta-chuan concluded that the respect for human rights serves as the ultimate benchmark of a democratic country, and it is a highly complex on-going process. Since its establishment in 2000, the Human Rights Protection Committee has organized several human rights workshops, including this year’s topic on older people, and the last two on indigenous peoples, and children. The Control Yuan shall continue to monitor the government so that under the demand of the human rights conventions, we can always do better and improve Taiwan’s human rights conditions.

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