China to strengthen elderly care system

Beijing, Aug 17 (IANS) Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has said greater reforms and innovation will be used to build a diversified nationwide elderly care service system by 2020.

Speaking at an executive meeting of the State Council, Li said that a sound elderly care service industry can help to create jobs and facilitate economic restructuring, Xinhua reported Friday.

Elderly care service facilities should be built in new communities and updated in the old ones, the state council said, adding that free or inexpensive services should be provided to disadvantaged elderly people, especially in rural areas.

The Chinese premier said more innovative elderly care service models should be explored, including those that involve cooperation with the health care, insurance, education and tourism industries.

Stating non-government actors and foreign investors should be encouraged to support the development of the sector, Li said that governments at all levels should provide fiscal and administrative support for the sector and facilitate the training of elderly care professionals.

China has a rapidly aging society and the largest population of elderly people in the world, reaching almost 200 million.

There are only 21.5 beds available for every 1,000 elderly people in Chinese nursing homes, according to the Social Development Department of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner.

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