As the world prepare to celebrate International Day of Older Persons, the Federal Government has restated commitment to the establishment of National Senior Citizens Centre and enhance their living standard across the country.
Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development stated this during a ministerial briefing to celebrate the day on Wednesday in Abuja.
The Day is observed on October 1 every year.
The United Nations General Assembly on 14th December, 1990 voted to establish October 1 as the International Day of Older Periods as recorded in Resolution 45/106.
The Day was observed for the first time on October 1, 1991.
This year’s theme is “Pandemics: Do They Change How We AddressAge and Aging?”
Farouq who was represented at the event by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Malam Bashir Umar Alkali. said that the theme is apt and timely given the COVID-19 pandemic thathas significantly affected older persons globally.
“Pandemics like the COVID-19 places older persons at greater risk. Theyare not only more prone to the disease but also face physical, psychological and financial abuse, exploitation and neglect.
“To this end, this year’s International Day of the Older Persons is highlightingthe role of Health Care Workers in the care and health of older persons with special recognition of the nursing profession.
“I am particularly pleased with the United Nations position that the 2020 observance of the day will promote the decade of healthy aging (2020-2030).
“This is with the aim of bringing together experts, Civil Society Organisations, Governments and Health Professionals to discuss the Five Strategic Objectives of the Global Strategy and Action Plan onAging and Health.
“I believe this will go a long way in improving the well being of older persons especially as it relates to their health.
“I want to reiterate our commitment toward the establishment and successful take off of the National Senior Citizens Centre,” Farouq said.
According to her, the Centre will provide trainings and opportunities to develop productive activities and work schemes for senior citizens.
She added that it would also be equipped with facilities designed for the full enjoyment and benefit of senior citizens.
Farouq also said that the Ministry would continue to engage older persons, support them and make life easier for them as people who have lived their lives for the support and service to the nation.
“We will continue to tap in to your wealth of experience.
“However, we should not lose sight of the fact that old age is not a disease or disadvantage but a blessing and season of life we all aspire to attain.
“To the Older persons across Nigeria, we specially thank you for thecontributions you have made in building our great nation,” she said.
Speaking earlier, the WHO Representative to Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi said older persons are sources of wisdom influencing who we are today.
According to him, not fewer than 17,000 older persons died in Africa as a results of the COVID-19 Pandemic which account to about 50 per cent deaths in the continent.
“We must play a role in preventing the spread of the pandemic by observing all the preventive measures like wearing of nose mask, social distance, use of sanitisers and personal hygiene.
Similarly, Mr Eze Ajoku, President of Coalition of Society for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria called for proper treatment of older persons in the country.
“I challenge the world and government to care for the older persons. Every young person today will become old tomorrow.
“Its so unfortunate that once you clock 60 years in civil service, your health insurance is cute off and your pension may not be paid until after a year or two thus subjecting old persons to sufferings.
“The delay in signing the policy documents on older person in the country is worrisome,” he said.