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African campaigners urge better policies
to strengthen protection of elderly

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- African governments need realign their national policies to reflect the needs and aspirations of elderly persons who comprise an estimated 6.3 percent of the continent’s population, campaigners said on Friday.

Roseline Kihumba, the International and Regional Policies Coordinator with Help Age International Africa Regional Office, stressed that reforms on social protection policies coupled with public awareness is key to improving the welfare of Africa’s senior citizens.

“Africa has witnessed a surge in the number of elderly people hence the need to modify existing policies to ensure they live in a dignified manner,” said Kihumba.

She spoke at a regional workshop on advancing the rights and protection of older persons displaced by conflicts held at the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa

Help Age International has been implementing a program to help improve the plight of elderly refugees from South Sudan who have settled in neighboring countries like Uganda and Ethiopia.

Kihumba noted that Africa’s ageing population has borne the brunt of man-made and natural calamities, hence the need to invest in livelihood projects that can shield them from hunger, disease and homelessness.

“We need to domesticate international and domestic protocols on protection of the rights of older people in this continent. They deserve shelter, decent income, education and social protection,” Kihumba said.

African Heads of State and Government in 2016 endorsed a comprehensive charter to promote the welfare of senior citizens in the continent in line with UN 2030 Goals and the continent’s Agenda 2063.

Kihumba said that empowering senior citizens is key to advancing Africa’s sustainability agenda.

“The elderly persons are making immense contribution to growth of Africa’s economies. They are care givers, farmers and peace mediators,” said Kihumba.

International campaigners have explored innovative ways to boost the welfare and living standards of elderly people across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Nebru Mehary, the Regional Program Manager, Protection and Inclusion at Help Age International, said that targeted interventions like medical care, training and psycho-social support are key to prolonging the lifespan of Africa’s senior citizens.



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