Inclusive policies for the elderly in community

Pan-African Parliamentarians assigned to the Permanent Committee on Justice and Human Rights have resolved to exert more pressure to fight ageism by influencing policies which enhance understanding and inclusion of older persons in communities continent-wide.

Africa is said to experience the highest increase of older persons than the rest of the continents. In 2015, It was home to 65 million people aged above 60 years, and the number is expected to rise to 220 million by 2050.

Despite this significant trend, rights and issues of older people continue to be overlooked, leaving them more vulnerable to abuse and other forms of human rights violation. Hon. Siniya Ahmed NAH from the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic lamented the state of affairs in Africa saying;

“We owe it to our elderly as they fought for what we are enjoying now, hence I suggest we undertake awareness, advocacy and policy influencing to enhance understanding and inclusion of older persons in families, community and society while optimising on World Elderly Abuse Day (15th of June) and the International Day for Older Persons (1st of October)”.

Togolese Member of Parliament, Hon. Agbo KOKOU emphasised on the urgent need to conscientize and educate citizens on issues to do with senior citizenry.

“Prevention is better than cure; we need not wait for citizens to age to start protecting them. We need to set up facilities that will train people to adapt to changes in life at an early age like 55 years. This will prepare and ease them into old age,” he said.

Hon. Halidou SANFO from Burkina Faso said there is a burning need to galvanize political will to help speed up the adoption and operationalization of legal policies and frameworks that promote and protect the rights of old people. “We need to accelerate the ratification of the AU Protocol on the Rights of Old Persons and to increase the participation of African member states,” he said.

The Permanent Committee wants more strategic partnerships to advance the rights of older persons in development agendas at national, regional and international discussions, starting with Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The deputy chairperson of the Committee on the day, Hon. Mephato REATILE, concluded the session by warning parliamentarians against getting caught up in the comparison of the Western ways of taking care of the elderly; with those of Africa, but to learn from all spheres of life while establishing homegrown solutions.