Elderly Citizens ‘Neglected’

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Health minister, Onyebuchi Chukwu has called on all stakeholders to collaborate with the federal government to come up with lasting solutions to ease the plight of elderly citizens of Nigeria, admitting that low awareness is partly responsible for their suffering.

“In the presence of competing health needs, they are relegated to the background,” he remarked in a message marking World Health Day this year, which focused on ageing, with the theme, Adding Life to Years Through Good Health.

Onyebuchi noted that they were “seriously threatened by poverty, wants and needs, deprivation, abuse, ill health, social exclusion, loneliness and sufferings.”

The National Council on Health–Nigeria’s premier body for health policies–has approved that units for geriatric health services be established in all public health facilities as an intervention measure on ageing and related diseases, the minister announced. And a draft national policy on ageing seeks to protect the rights of the elderly, and promote measures to safeguard and advance their needs in terms of social services.

But the International Federation of Ageing Nigeria (IFAN), which organised the event on World Health Day, linked rampant corruption in the country to the way the elderly and ageing are cared for.

“If people are not sure of their final end, there is a tendency to accumulate, to abuse…out of fear and insecurity,” said Ike Willie-Nwobu of IFAN, Nigerian chapter of the international nongovernmental organisation based in Quebec, Canada.

He said since the country did not place much value on ageing and didn’t prepare for it, Nigeria would not have good schemes for formal and adult education without “harvesting potentials in the ageing.”

“It doesn’t make sense that you train people and after they have gathered all the experience you throw them to the dustbin,” he told Daily Trust. “That is the time and the period they should give back to the nation.”

Population of people aged over 60 has doubled around the world since 1980, said Dr Andrew Mbere of the World Health Organisation. In Nigeria, it reached 5.8 million in 2005 and is projected to triple to 16 million by 2030.

Increasing life expectancy is responsible for the growing ageing population, but Senator Ben Obi, a presidential special adviser on interparty affairs, warned that “need for long-term care of rapidly ageing population” would be a major issue for Nigeria.

 

In : Health