Discussion of new strategy to support the elderly
The Ministry of Labour of the Russian Federation has initiated public discussion of a national strategy for supporting the elderly
Public discussion has begun on regulation.gov.ru of the ‘Strategy to support the elderly to 2025’. According to Rosstat forecasts, within ten years almost a third of the Russian population will be senior citizens. NGO representatives believe that this challenge provides the opportunity to advance the country’s social security system to a whole new level.
The decision to develop the strategy received the support of Vladimir Putin at a meeting of the Presidium of the State Council “On the development of a social security system for senior citizens”, which took place in Voronezh in August 2014. The need for such a strategy was first raised by non-profit organisations and experts in the field. Discussions were also held in the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation.
The purpose of the strategy is to define the objectives, principles, challenges and priority areas of a state social policy for senior citizens.
The draft strategy was developed and submitted to the Government of the Russian Federation by the Ministry of Labour. The document is currently available on regulation.gov.ru’, the website through which the Russian authorities communicate information to the public about the development of legislative acts and the outcome of their public discussion.
“We would like to see discussion take place at regional level in order to then select best practice”, said the Minister of Labour and Social Protection, Maxim Topilin.
The strategy aims to address the issues of preserving and improving health, raising life expectancy, improving the support systems available to the elderly, protecting their rights and interests, improving their welfare and social wellbeing, and creating the conditions for their active participation in society. The provisions of the strategy are designed to ensure an improvement in the quality of life of older people of various age groups, regardless of their place of residence, taking into account their activity in the community and their need for assistance and support, according to the explanatory memorandum to the document.
The need to prepare such a strategy is due to an increase in the number and proportion of those beyond working age in Russia. In an aging population, the elderly represent an increased demographic burden. While in 2007 there were 326 retirees for every 1000 people of working age, by 2013 this figure had risen to 384. According to Rosstat’s medium variant forecast, by the beginning of 2021, 39.5 million people will be beyond working age, accounting for 26.7% of the total population.
‘The country is aging progressively. In ten years’ time every third citizen of Russia will be a pensioner. This figure has huge consequences both for the labour market and for the social sphere as a whole, given that the greater the number of elderly people, the greater the share of the budget which must be spent on healthcare and the social security system. It is this challenge which enables society and the government to make a breakthrough in the development of the strategy’, notes Edward Karyukhin, gerontologist and Chairman of the Regional Public Foundation for the Elderly ‘Good Deed’.
In his view, the key point of the strategy is the issue of healthcare and medical services for the elderly. The document envisages the creation of a medical assistance service for the elderly.
‘We have been calling for the rebuilding of the geriatric system in Russia since the 1990s. We do not have a specialised service responsible for the health of the elderly. That is one of the criteria by which quality of life is measured. And now impetus is being given to the serious development of gerontology and geriatrics as a whole in Russia. The role of chief gerontologist has already been created at the Ministry of Health to discuss the routing of patients at all stages of treatment’, says Edward Karyukhin.
Additionally, Karyukhin states that the strategy takes into account NGO and expert suggestions to address age discrimination and violence against the elderly. He draws attention to the need for consideration of the interests of the third sector as a crucial component of the social support system for the elderly.
According to the chief legal inspector of the trade union SOTSPROF Andrei Gavrilov, when preparing the final version of the strategy it is particularly necessary to deal with discrimination in the recruitment process.
‘It seems in this regard that many of the right steps have been taken. For example, by law employers must send unsuccessful applicants written refusals. But is the legislation working? According to our data, even if not openly stated in job adverts, age remains a major reason for rejection of applicants… I am certain that specialists will identify a number of other areas which, without elaboration, will ensure this document remains just a beautiful piece of paper. So now, at the stage of public evaluation of the Ministry of Labour’s proposals, it is necessary for the public to submit their views as fully as possible in order for the strategy to become viable’, Andrei Gavrilov commented on the document.
The Elena and Gennady Timchenko Foundation is also actively participating in the development of the strategy.
‘We are grateful to policymakers for including the majority of our provisional proposals in the text of the document. Now we, together with experts from the NGO sector, are working on a commentary on the latest version of the strategy, which is open to public discussion. This commentary will cover the overall structure of the document, the hierarchy of objectives and priorities, the particular formulation of the problem and the action plan of the strategy’, explained Vadim Samorodov, manager of the Older Generation program at the foundation.
Public discussion of the strategy will run until 23 June.
Author: Yulia Vyatkina