By Asma’u Ahmad
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has said that the Federal Government is committed to achieving the World Health Organisation (WHO) 2016-2020 road map targets and goals of the Global Strategy and Action Plan on Health and Ageing.
Adewole gave the assurance at a one-day Project and Partnership Development Outreach Programme on Healthcare for the Aged, Social Security of Elderly and the Rights of the Senior Citizens in Abuja on Tuesday.
The minister was represented by Dr Saidu Dumbulwa, National Coordinator Healthcare Package for Improving Quality Care of the Ageing Population at the programme which was to mark the 2018 Day of Older Persons.
The programme was hosted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Biscom Services. “I am quite optimistic that given the current strong political will on the part of government, the targets as envisaged in the plan, will be attained and possibly surpassed.
“As you know, in our various cultures, the health and social care of the aged is a collective responsibility of every member of the family,” the minister said.
This, he added, was in spite of the significant rural urban migration by the youth that were supposed to look after the aged. He stressed that it was, however, the responsibility of all to protect and ensure improve quality of health and welfare of the ageing population.
The minister added that the ministry had made some progress in the ongoing health sector response to the care of the aged, saying it had already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with some universities in the United Kingdom. He said the ministry was open to other relevant organisations in Nigeria ahead of the first national summit on healthy ageing, slated for the first quarter of 2019.
He noted that in the last decade, concerns for the ageing population had led to the introduction of new policies and programmes in which the social sector had taken the centre stage. The minister said many governments in developed and developing economies had designed or piloted innovative policies in health, social security or welfare systems.
He added that several policy framework documents, including national plans of action on ageing, had also been enacted, saying that the ministry was working hard to ensure that Nigeria was not left behind. He thanked the International Federation on Ageing Nigeria (IFAN) and other organising partners for marking the 2018 International Day of Older Persons.
He added that the theme of this year`s celebration which was “Celebrating Older Human Right Champions”, was in line with Federal Government’s current efforts to address the needs of older persons in the country. According to him, government is promoting quality healthcare for the aged to ensure that they enjoyed unhindered access to affordable healthcare services.
Adewole added that this was in tandem with efforts toward achieving universal health coverage. He commended the synergy between the private and public sectors, particularly for their support for programmes geared toward the improvement of the wellbeing of the ages in the country.
Mr Ike Willie-Nwobu, IFAN Coordinator, said the programme was to expose NAN Biscom Services and NAN huge human, physical and logistic operational infrastructure that would help enhanced elderly healthcare. He said IFAN was partnering with the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Federal Ministry of Health, National Youth Service Corps and NAN.
Willie-Nwobu stressed that NAN was very strategic to the ministries involved and would be supportive in areas of mobilisation, advocacy, sensitisation, logistics, operation interface, documentation and research, among others. He added that such partnership would create sub-regional development and technical partnership that would attract funding and technical assistance from diverse institutions, including country to country collaboration and cooperation.
He further added that IFAN was promoting retirees, pensioners and veterans resource centres in higher institutions across the country. According to him, it is criminal and senseless for people to retire with their knowledge, skill, capacity and competence at their most productive time.
“We will help Police, Immigration, Prison, Customs and other paramilitary organisations develop, promote and enhance and project their veterans department and explore economic empowerment for the Armed Forces Veterans and that of other platforms.
Mr Idris Abdulrahman, NAN Editor-in-Chief, assured that the agency was open to partnership and would give publicity to all, adding that it had the capacity and personnel to reach the world. Abdulrahman added that the agency had over 500 editorial staff within and outside the country and that it was 90 per cent subscriber-based.
Abdulrahman used the opportunity to inform stakeholders of the agency’s diverse services, which he said, included SMS alert, multimedia services as well as general news service. He charged government functionaries and stakeholders at various levels of government to talk to NAN always to get a wider coverage of their activities, adding that the agency also had strong presence in the social media.