Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the project would involve a development planning process that was expected to take two years.
She said based on the expected scenario of the country’s population for years to come, the government, through the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, in collaboration with the Perak government, Taiping Municipal Council and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), drafted a pilot project towards establishing an age-friendly city in Taiping.
“To date, the government has received funds totalling US$267,000 (RM1.1mil) from UNDP to begin a comprehensive study on Taiping’s current status as an age-friendly city based on international guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation,” she said in her speech at the launch of the pilot project here yesterday.
Dr Wan Azizah said the results of the comprehensive study would be compiled to develop a National Comprehensive Framework adjusted to local needs that could be adapted elsewhere.
“The project is also an instrument to integrate the role of individuals in the community and the local community so that the living environment is barrier-free and safe by establishing an effective support system,” she said.
The ministry, she said, hoped that the age-friendly city concept could be expanded throughout the country with the cooperation of state governments and the local authorities.
Perak is expected to become the oldest state in terms of population in Malaysia in 2020 when the senior group reaches 385,000 or 14.9% of the estimated 2.6 million total population, she said.
According to data from the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the country would reach aged nation status by 2030 with the percentage of people aged 60 and above at 15.3%, she added.
“This means that the population of senior citizens at that time will be 5.8 million compared to the estimated population of 38.1 million,” she said.
Dr Wan Azizah said according to WHO, the percentage of senior citizens who would migrate or stay in cities was the same as for young people at 80% and it was expected to increase at the same rate.
“More senior citizens are expected to live in urban areas by 2050, representing one-fourth of the total urban population in developing countries,” she said.
At a press conference after visiting a relief centre at SK Changkat Lobak in Kerian, Dr Wan Azizah said the study on age-friendly city was started in September and MyAgeing Universiti Putra Malaysia was appointed as the main consultant.
Meanwhile, UNDP deputy resident representative Niels Knudsen said as the world continued to urbanise, creating more sustainable pathways depended increasingly on the successful management of urban growth.
“We are therefore excited about the prospects of the Age-Friendly City project and of the potential for using the lessons generated in Taiping to form national policies as Malaysia prepares for the future,” he said. — Bernama