Source: Xinhua | 2012-9-21 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
THE government is looking for a way to provide assistance to elderly citizens who have lost their only child, a senior civil affairs official said yesterday.
Dou Yupei, vice minister of civil affairs, made the remarks at the press conference on progress in improving people's livelihood and social security, held at the Information Office of the State Council.
Dou said the elder care problem is new for the country, surfacing only since the 1980s, when China implemented family planning policies to control its population.
According to current policies, the government supports elders who are not able to work, have no source of income and have no one to support them, Dou said. Accordingly, parents who have lost their only children should also be supported by the government, Dou said.
Dou said funds and services will be the key points in improving the country's elder care system, and greater attention needed to be paid to elder care services in the country's rural areas as part of a move to secure balanced development among different regions.
Dou said China's elder care system is facing "very grave problems," as the population is aging quickly and some elderly citizens are unable to cover their own care needs.
Besides, China's family units are getting smaller, complicating the situation, Dou said.
Dou said the ministry is working on several projects to build nursing homes at different levels and equip nursing homes and communities with necessary rehabilitation facilities.
Authorities are also considering encouraging private investment in this area through preferential policies in terms of taxation, land usage, and water and power supplies for privately run nursing institutions, according to the vice minister.
The government will improve nursing homes' admission and supervision systems to ensure quality services as well as these institutions' healthy operation.
Dou said the ministry and local civil affairs departments will put half of the lottery funds they have in the elderly care system.
China plans to provide 6.6 million beds in nursing homes for the country's elderly by the end of 2015, increasing the number of beds for every 1,000 senior citizens from the current 19 to 30.