By Favour Nnabugwu
Universities in the country may have to adjust their curriculum to accommodate Gerontology and Geriatrics programmes in order to the deal with the challenges of aged people in the society.
This is coming on the heels of review of universities’ curriculum by the National University Commission, NUC, to accommodate Gerontology and Geriatrics studies that will address the peculiar challenges of older persons in the country.
The Executive Secretary of the NUC, Prof. Julius Okojie, at a two-day consultative meeting with selected varsities on the delivery of post-graduate programmes in Gerontology and Geriatrics in Abuja said the Commission has approved 10 varsities for the pilot phase.
The event, in collaboration with the Dave Omokaro Foundation, is aimed at capacity development for the training of ‘professionals and para-professionals to meet the challenges and embrace opportunities that come with the steady rise in absolute numbers of older persons.’
“The central objective of this meeting on the part of the NUC is to formally introduce the ‘ageing studies’ project and engage the relevant varsity faculties in exchange of information, knowledge and professional experience on key issues.”
According to him, these issues include curriculum development, structure of trans-disciplinary and integrated programmes and faculty training.
Others are: international partnerships, funding and strategies for laying the foundation for the emergence of centres of excellence in Gerontology and Geriatrics.
Okojie said the increase in absolute number and percentage of older persons was globally generating increasing demand for special services.
“Structured and dedicated health and social support systems that could guarantee the health care delivery and social security of the ageing population are near non existent. Therefore, human capital development and research are key elements that will help to address the issue.”
Okojie, however, hinted that the number of older people over 60 years is expected to increase from about 600 million in 2000 to over 2 billion in the year 2050 with Nigeria projected to be among the 11 countries with the highest population of older persons.
This he said will be greatest and the most rapid in developing countries, where the number of older people is expected to triple during the next 40 years.
The introduction of the studies was expected to tackle challenges associated with ageing such as; health care delivery, the systems for advancing health and well-being, the provision of enabling and supportive environment as well as social security concerns.