Deputy minister for the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Mwanaidi Ali Khamis made the remarks over the weekend in Dodoma during the commemoration to mark the International Day of Older Persons.
“Older people have equal rights to live, to be respected and to be given support to participate in the growth of the economy,” he intoned.
She said the community should cease negative belief over older people, and begin to value and appreciate their presence in the contribution for national development.
The minister highlighted that the government in collaboration with the Police Force has managed to reduce the killings of older people from 577 killings in 2014 to 54 in 2020.
“Our focus as the government is to end all killings of older people by educating the public to respect older people and to use them wisely,” she said.
The United Nations General Assembly by resolution 45/106 designated 1st of every October as the International Day of Older Persons (UNIDOP) which seeks to promote an age inclusive agenda.
The day is basically marked to increase awareness to the public on various issues pertaining to elder people including opportunities and challenges facing the group.
This year’s commemoration dubbed “Digital Equity for All Ages” is aimed at recognizing the need for access and meaningful participation of older people in the digital world.
“The theme reminds us that women and older people have been left aside in the digital world, they are not benefiting from the available opportunities in the digital world,” she explained, adding that there is a need for setting up proper mechanisms for them to benefit from the digital world.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti, reverence for our elders is a core value across African societies and so this day is a reminder to appreciate the grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles who have guided, inspired and made sacrifices for their families and communities.
“Older people should be a key demographic group for the health sector, the technology industry and other sectors, but too often their interests, concerns and preferences are overlooked or assumed,” she mentioned.
She insisted that investment is needed in quality community – based services designed around the preferences of older residents, including listening and sharing information in ways that build trust.
“More should be done to ensure that digital health strategies, approaches and devices reach older people in ways that they appreciate and value,” she said.
Moeti cautioned responsible stakeholders to take appropriate action providing social and economic support for older people and to leverage their wisdom, talents and skills in shaping healthy societies.
Chairman for older people in Dodoma region Petro Mpolo urged the government to assist them with better health services as they are now objected to paying for medical treatment.
“Older people are not involved in the local government decision making meetings thus denying their political rights,” he said, adding that the government should work on the amendment for Ageing Policy 2003 to include the recommendations given to improve their rights.
Mpolo advised the government to prepare a modality for older people to be given health insurance coverage to help them access health service easily.
He applauded the government for formulation of councils for older people at streets, village and regional levels which helps them to get opportunities to engage in various social activities.