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Vietnam plans to build retirement homes for abandoned seniors

Passers-by give alms to an old woman on a Ho Chi Minh City street. Photo courtesy of Nguoi Lao Dong

The construction ministry has mooted a US$6-million pilot project to build shelters for old people without families in 10 poor provinces.

They will each provide a place to live and medical and other services to 50 people, Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon Online reported.

They will be built in the northern mountainous provinces of Cao Bang and Tuyen Quang, Thanh Hoa near Hanoi, Nghe An, Quang Tri and Quang Nam on the flood-prone central coast, the Central Highlands provinces of Lam Dong and Kon Tum, and Tra Vinh and Dong Thap in the Mekong Delta.

If approved by the government, the first homes would open by the third quarter of 2015, the ministry said.

Deputy Minister of Construction Nguyen Tran Nam said Vietnam has one of the most rapidly aging populations in Asia, with old people accounting for 10 percent but less than a fifth of them benefitting from social welfare.

Nam said around 100,000 old people have to fend for themselves across the country.

There are more than 430 social welfare centers in Vietnam and 180 of them take in old people, but only 15 are meant exclusively for them.

Senior citizens do not get the spiritual care they need, the ministry said in the proposal.

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