Create agency for elderly care, foundation urges Federal Government
The Advocacy for Widows Empowerment Foundation (ADWEF) has urged the Federal Government to create a separate agency for the welfare of elderly people in Nigeria.
Mr Willie Workman, the Chief Executive Officer of the foundation, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.
Workman said many poor and vulnerable older people in Nigeria had died because they had no one to care or speak for them.
According to him, it is important that government prioritises the wellbeing of the elderly people by creating an agency for their welfare and progress in the society.
He said the existing Senior Citizens Centre had not optimally functioned to be able to implement targeted initiatives, especially in the rural areas, to improve the welfare of the elderly.
He said since many elderly people were lonely, neglected and impoverished; issues that affect their health, social and economic wellbeing should be improved upon to make their lives more satisfying.
Workman also said that, in setting up the agency, offices should be located in every Local Government Area to ensure that inclusion of the elderly at the grassroots level.
He also suggested that addressing the issue of pension and gratuity should be top priority of the mandates of the agency as most elderly have been denied their rights in that regard.
“A lot of elderly persons in Nigeria are faced with the challenge of exclusion.
“A lot of them that do not have children or relatives to pursue their pension and gratuity are being denied of such incentives.
“By the time you are 45 in Nigeria, you are excluded from the job market, finances, and some socio-economic programmes.
“It has become pertinent for the government to consider total inclusion of older people by recognising and protecting their human rights; which can be achieved if an agency is set up to man their affairs,” Workman said.
He also enjoined the government to come up with some palliatives for the elderly in form of allowances, free medical services and recreational facilities to improve their mental health.
According to him, older people in Nigeria suffer exclusion from developmental plans such as the Health Insurance Scheme coverage, aging incentives, among others.
“There is a need for universal basic healthcare coverage and provision of health insurance to aged persons, especially the rural community dwellers.
“Reducing poverty, improving nutrition and making sure people have access to safe water and sanitation as well as strengthening national health systems, are of the utmost importance,” he said. (NAN)