The Federal Ministry of Health, (FMoH) says it is working to achieve the 2020 Global Strategy plan of action plan for the older population in the country.
Dr Saidu Dumbulwa, Coordinator, Healthcare Package for Improving Quality Care on Ageing Population in Nigeria (HEPIQ-C), disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN), on Thursday in Abuja, in commemoration of the International Day of Older Persons 2020.
The theme of the 2020 International Day of the Older Persons is “Pandemics: Do They Change How We Address Age and Ageing?”
NAN reports that the International Day of Older Persons is observed every year on October 1.
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The day aims to raise awareness of the impact of an ageing population and the need to ensure people can grow old with dignity and to elevate consciousness about points, which are affecting the aged, like senescence and elder abuse.
The day is also used to celebrate and honour the contributions of the older individuals to the society.
Dumbulwa said the strategy was a significant step forward in establishing a framework for member states; even as the World Health Organisation (WHO), Secretariat and partners were to contribute to achieving the vision that all people could live long and healthy lives.
“The Strategy (2016 – 2020) has two goals: five years of evidence-based action to maximize functional ability that reach every person; and
“It is also to establish evidence and partnerships necessary to support a Decade of Healthy Ageing from 2020 to 2030.
“Specifically, the Strategy focuses on five strategic objectives: commitment to action on Healthy Ageing in every country; developing age-friendly environments; aligning health systems to the needs of older populations; developing sustainable and equitable systems for providing long-term care (home, communities, institutions); and improving measurement, monitoring and research on Healthy Ageing,” he noted.
The coordinator said that in 2016 Nigeria proposed the strategy document and it was immediately launched into a project package to improve the quality of older people in the country.
According to him, immediately after the endorsement, we felt there was a need to conduct a need assessment to know whether our health workers are aware of what the health and ageing is all about and the outcome of the result came out grossly adequate.
“This actually resulted to the urgent need to come up with a project on how to go about addressing this and that’s how the project came out.
“We have four termatic pillars clinical care; we have research, training, workforce and health social.
“At this moment, I am telling you that as far as the clinical care is concerned in trying to align to the health system, the global health system on the health care of the older persons; we have planned to actually establish regional generatic centres that will address this issue of gross inadequacy of the work force.
“While we have gentricoans across the country and at this moment we have started post graduate resident trainings for colleges of West African and national in genre namely in the National Hospitals, Universities Teaching Hospitals, Benin, Port Harcourt and Maiduguri, University College hospital.
“We also have trained over 500 people in generic courses, which is actually welcomed,” he said.
He disclosed that Nigeria had also developed and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a foreign University of Western, and in January some Nigerians would be going to study health and ageing, the clinical perspective.
He said that it was important for Nigerians to understand the issue of health social support in the country for the older population.
“In 2018, the president, during the launch of the rehabilitation of the primary health care, did say, he is committed to improve the quality of healthcare of the vulnerable children and women.
“Thereafter, we are able to come together and presented a bill to the president, who consented to the bill of establishing of the national citizen.
“This centre is coming up under the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and it will be working mainly in addressing health component and all the aged person’s problems in the country,” he said.
The coordinator noted that the national citizen would come up with the component and this was one of the kind in the whole ECOWAS region.
“As we are forging ahead to achieve the 2020-2030 Sustainable Development Goals, we cannot achieve that without focusing on the elderly people with their population of over 15 million Nigerians that are over 60 years of age.
“So, these people are equivalent to three to five African countries population.
“This is the population that we cannot ignore that is why the Nigerian government is committed and that is why the issue of providing formal health care insurance in Nigeria for the older people is one of the commitments of this present administration,” he said.
Dumbulwa said to that effect, the country was working on coming up with a committee that would work in collaboration with stakeholders such as the National Pension Commission (PENCOM), The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), and the National Union of Retired Civil Servant and FMoH to see how Nigeria would actually come to provide this kind of health insurance for older persons.
“We will focus on people who have retired from the service to continue with the health insurance and those people who are in the informal sector that has never worked with the government but have reached the age 70 so that they can also benefit from this package that the government has for them.
“So, at this moment, Nigeria is one of the countries in the ECOWAS region that is leading in terms of this global strategy plans for action for ageing, and efforts to achieving universal health coverage for older persons,” he said.
He said that the government has moved from where it was before in 2016 to where they are now.
The Coordinator said there was hope in terms of health and social support, which the government had plans for.
“ We have a strategic plan by health agent, strategic framework that is meant to address these issues at the ECOWAS level, we have a plan for 2020-2024 in the ECOWAS member states.
“We are very optimistic that the health care and social care of older persons will improve for Nigerians,” he said.
NAN recalls that the December 14, 1990, the United Nations General Assembly (by resolution 45/106) designated October 1 the International Day of Older Persons.
This was preceded by initiatives such as the Vienna International Plan of Action on ageing that was adopted by the 1982 World Assembly on aging and endorsed later that year by the UN General Assembly.
In 1991, the General Assembly (by resolution 46/91) adopted the United Nations Principles for Older Persons.
In 2002, the Second World Assembly on ageing adopted the Madrid International Plan of Action on ageing, to respond to the opportunities and challenges of population ageing in the 21st century and to promote the development of a society for all ages.
Older people make huge contributions to society through volunteer work, transmitting experience and knowledge, helping their families with caring responsibilities, and participating in the paid labour force.
Celebrating this day will increase understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on older persons and its impact on health care policy, planning, and attitudes.