By Deborah Christopher, Abuja
The ministry of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social Development held a one day symposium in honour of the older persons on Thursday in Abuja to raise awareness of the special needs of older persons, their contributions in the society.
The annual event in celebration of senior Citizens around the world as a way to enlighten people and take record of the opportunities and challenges related to population, ageing in other to ensure the society are accommodating of all ages.
Representing the honourable minister of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social Development Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq was Director of the ministry Grema Ali Alhaji.
The theme for this year’s symposium tagged “Pandemics: do They change how we address age and ageing?”
Mr Grema stated that older persons are at higher risk of severe illness and death from covid-19, indicating that in the African Region, more than 17,000 people over 60 years have lost their lives to Covid-19, accounting for over 50% of the pandemic deaths in the Region.
He noted that this year’s event enlightened the importance of older persons in the society.
He emphasized the significant to care for older people from the government, private sector and business owners as a necessity following their contributions to the family, community and society.
Ali urged younger persons to always be supportive to the senior citizens giving that throughout their lives, they have given their time, energy to serving the Nation. Adding that In return, “we should do more to support their human rights and freedoms, including their right to live in dignity and security-free from want and free from fear”
He lauded Health workers that they have been the heroes of 2020 with their bravery in the face of the pandemic at the fore front, working round the clock to save as much lives as possible. Justifying why this year has been recognized as The “Year of The Nurse and Midwife”. International Day of Older Persons.
He further explained that this year highlighted the role of the health care workforce in contributing to the health of older persons, with special recognition of the nursing profession, and a primary focus on the role of women who are relatively undervalued, in most cases inadequately compensated.
To this end, he said in realization of the importance and impact of older citizens in our society, the honourable Minister Sadiya Farouq initiated various programs and activities towards ensuring healthy ageing. Also, the Ministry noted their work on policy interventions in partnership with both international, Regional and Sub-regional bodies to develop and implement programmes and projects that will ensure the overall wellbeing of the elderly. It was further shared by the ministry that the national policy on ageing has been finalized awaiting the Federal Executive Council
Meanwhile Director General of voice of Nigeria, (VON) Mr Osita Okechukwu in his remarks noted that Citizens, government should have the older people in mind by making free transportation, free medical care, timely payment of pensions and free legal services available to the older persons in order to make them happy and also as a way to encourage the younger generations to look forward to aging as a thing of joy as this is a phase we all pray for and hope to go through.
He also stated that the elderly are the world’s fastest growing population group, with those 60 years or older constituting one person in 10, a figure that is expected to rise to one person in five by mid-century.