Envoy urges policies that protect elderly people

Tue, 06 Feb 2018 09:06:44 +0000

By AARON CHIYANZO

AFRICAN governments should formulate policies that would serve to protect old persons from abuse, discrimination, and neglect because the population for the aged has been projected to triple in the next thirty years, Zambia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Lazarous Kapambwe has said.

He however said that Zambia had formulated policies meant to protect the aged through specific social protection programmes such as the Social Cash Transfer, Food Security Packs and Farmer Inputs Support Programme (FISP) mainly targeted at the vulnerable and potentially destitute older persons.

Amb Kapambwe said that Africa was often described as a youthful continent, but that the age structure in the region had dramatically changed due to the decline in fertility and mortality rates in the region.

He stated that it had been projected that the statistical percentage of the population of people at the age of 60 years and above for Africa, would rise to 157 million by the year 2050.

Amb Kapambwe was speaking on behalf of Africa at the Fifty-Sixth Session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development discussing global review of the outcomes of the third review and appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing.

He observed that older persons in many African countries often experienced human rights challenges which included age discrimination, abuse, neglect and gaps in the provision legal protection.

The ambassador however said Zambia had been implementing policies tailored to fulfil the rights of older persons to adequate standards of living through the social protection programmes.  In a statement issued by first secretary for Press at the embassy in New York, Wallen Simwaka, Amb Kapambwe stated that Zambia has already developed a national policy on ageing in order to address the many challenges the older people are facing.

“While Africa is often described as a youthful continent, the age structure in the region is changing dramatically as fertility and mortality have been declining. The percentage of population aged 60 and above is projected to rise to 7.6 percent by the year 2050 from 4.9 percent in 2015 which is more than tripling of the number of older people in Africa.

“Africa needs to do more to address the challenges which militate against the implementation of national plans and policies designed to protect the rights of the older people,” he said.

Amb Kapambwe noted that many countries in Africa are using their local governments to involve older people in the development and monitoring national policies on aging.

He however stated that the majority of African countries do not have programmes that could provide continued education among the elderly and that less than one in five older persons on the continent often receive an old-age pension.

Amb Kapambwe told the United Nations that although the majority of African Governments have policies and programmes to promote health and wellbeing of the older persons, the implementation and sustainability of the measures were still a challenge.

The Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) was adopted at the Second World Assembly on Ageing in April 2002 in Madrid and marked a turning point in how the world addresses the key challenge of building a society for all ages.

The Madrid Plan of Action offers a bold new agenda for handling the issue of ageing in the 21st-century and focuses on older persons and development, advancing health and well-being into old age, as well as ensuring enabling and supportive environments.

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