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According to United Nations Population projection the proportion of older persons aged 60 years and above in Islamic Republic of Iran will reach to about 30 percent in 2050.  The government of Iran plans mainstream ageing related issues in the national and sectoral polices and plans.  Hence within the framework of UNFPA sixth Country Programme (2017 – 2021) to support the partners to fill existing data and information gaps for evidence-based policy formulation and planning in the area of population and development, conduct of a National Survey of Older Persons was envisaged.  With support of UNFPA, Prof.  Asghar Zaidi, the Professor of International Social Policy from University of Southampton facilitated a three day workshop (12-15 November 2017) to review the proposals and mechanics to conduct the national survey scheduled for early 2018.   The workshop brought full participation of various relevant organizations such as State Welfare Organization, Statistical Center of Iran, Ministry of Health and Medical Education, National Organization for Civil Registration as well as academia from University of Tehran and University and the University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Science, showing the multi sectoral approach to older persons issues.

The closing ceremony was held this morning in State Welfare Organization with presence of  Dr. Mohseni Bandpey, Deputy Minister and Head of State Welfare Organization ,  Dr. Salmannejad, Head of Secretariat for the National Council of the Older Persons, and  Dr. Leila Joudane, UNFPA Representative in Islamic Republic of Iran.Dr. Salmannejad, acknowledged UNFPA’s support towards ageing issues and emphasized on the importance of the national survey as a solid evidence for policy formulation for older persons.

Dr. Khosheshi, the national expert to co-conduct the survey highlighted the importance of addressing ageing based on evidence and right data.  He elaborated on some significant technicalities of conducting the survey to ensure efficiency of data collection for better policy formulation and called for learning from international experiences once the results are out.   Dr. Khosheshi also referred to the current population pyramid of the country and related the growing ageing population to the good and dedicated services of the government in areas such as better health and education resulting in an increase in life expectancy.

Dr. Joudane, UNFPA Representative in Iran expressed her deep condolences to all the Iranians and government of Iran specially the family members of the victims of deadly earthquake in Kermanshah and announced UNFPA readiness for any support if needed.  She expressed her contentment in positive steps taken together with relevant implementing partners to address ageing issues.  Having said that, she noted that timely undertaking of  such surveys are essential for policy formulation ensuring that the rights of older people are protected, their needs are fulfilled, and their dignity are retained.  Dr. Joudane lauded the high level and sophisticated discussions during the past three days on various characteristics and aspects of national survey as well as practical recommendations provided by the knowledgeable academics and Prof. Zaidi for conducting high quality survey.  While expressing confidence in  capacity of Iran’s academia as well as Statistical Centre of Iran  and other partners involved, she called for continuous quality control measures as an  essential measure to ensure that the result of survey provide precise information for policy makers to decide and plan.  Dr. Joudane reaffirmed UNFPA’s commitment and continuous support to this important exercise to reach to its final goal and objectives.

Dr. Bandpey also conveyed his deep condolences and announced that the Welfare Organization has provided support team to address post –traumatic issues to earthquake stricken areas.  He thanked all relevant stakeholders involved in addressing ageing issues and expressed special thanks to Dr. Joudane not only for UNFPA’s  support towards government of Iran to address ageing  but also offering helping hand during the current emergency.  Dr. Bandpey noted that ageing being a priority for the government should be addressed through a scientific approach and highlighted the feminization of ageing requiring special attention. He  stated that older person as compared to other population groups are more vulnerable because often they think that  they are left behind that their potential cannot be utilized.  Dr. Bandpay mentioned some significant achievements on ageing such as allocation of national budget line for the first time last year and noted that forums such as the Tabriz Regional Ageing Symposium & Soul Ageing Conference have advocated for more joint efforts with UNFPA to address the needs of older persons.  He also referred to the advocacy efforts with the parliament to establish right-based approach for addressing issues of older persons and increasing the budget allocation.

Last but not least, Prof. Zaidi provided practical recommendation related to the national survey questionnaire, sampling, data quality, pilot study, analysis and dissemination and elaborated on way forwards for efficient conduct of the national survey for older person in light of discussions during the last three days of the workshop.  Analysis of the survey results was noted as the most important step because it can lead to right policy formulation and should be done with strong gender lens.  Closing ceremony concluded with question and answers by experts from various organizations.