More senior activity centres approved for Sarawak to cope with rising elderly population

Dr Wan Azizah delivering her speech.

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KUCHING: The federal government has approved two additional Pusat Aktiviti Warga Emas (PAWE) to be set up in the state, bringing the total PAWE centres in the state to 13.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said Sarawak, having the most PAWE centres compared to other states in the country, will see the two new centres set up in Petra Jaya and Sibuti by the end of this year.

She hoped that these centres would not only help the state’s senior citizens continue being active in their communities but also help boost the state’s socio-economy, as inactive elderly people or those experiencing ‘empty nest’ syndrome would not stand to gain benefit from any government programmes in the country.

“The federal government has allocated some RM93.4 in 2018 and RM82.9 million this year to the state Community Development Department (JKM) to help its elderly people through the Senior Citizens Assistance Scheme (BOT), which has benefitted some 22,000 people.

“The government will continue to add more PAWE centres in the country, aiming for at least one centre per parliamentary constituency,” said Dr Wan Azizah who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister.

Wan Azizah (second right) officiating the Santuni Rakyat programme as Sarawak Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah (centre) looks on.

She added that Malaysia may become an elderly nation by the year 2030 where some 15 per cent of its citizens will be aged 60 years old and above.

The Statistics Department revealed that as of 2018, some 11 per cent or 306,800 of Sarawak’s 2.79 populations are aged 60 and above, she said.

This would mean that by the year 2030 the elderly population in the state would increase to 16 per cent or 526,300 out of its 3.29 million population estimated for that year.

“This shift in demographics would give great implications to the social and economic aspects.

“Therefore early preparations must be done now with close collaboration between the state and federal governments and the various local agencies, academics, NGOs, the community and the elderly themselves,” said Dr Wan Azizah.

She revealed that the government had also allocated some RM5 million to JKM nationwide to set up 47 additional PAWE centres, bringing it to a total of 135 by the end of this year.

Apart from that, some RM2.9 million is to be disbursed to 88 of these centres nationwide for operations cost, she added.

She was speaking during the opening ceremony of the state level ‘Santuni Rakyat’ programme at Petra Jaya here today. — DayakDaily