On October 1, the world marked the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons with the slogan ‘Pandemics: Do They Change How We Address Age and Ageing.’ The occasion should remind the governments and policymakers of the precarious conditions of the elderly population in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. The older persons have become more vulnerable to the deadly disease than those of different age groups. It may lead to fatal consequences to the persons having chronic health problems and weak immune system. The global data of the persons who caught the virus and succumbed to it corroborated this fact. So the countries and their leaders have put emphasis on interventions for raising awareness of the special needs and care for the senior citizens who naturally deserve respect from the society because of their contribution to it.
According to the United Nations, this year has also been recognised as the ‘Year of the Nurse and Midwife,’ highlighting the role of the healthcare workers in contributing to the health of older persons. It seeks to recognise the importance of nursing profession and specially the role of women, who are not given props despite their selfless service to the people. We must take the occasion to ensure human rights, economic empowerment, social dignity, good health and security for the older persons. Nepal’s constitution has guaranteed the rights of senior citizens and the government has been providing Rs. 3,000 as social security allowance to each elderly person aged over 70 years. However, the stakeholders have called for giving attention also to the problems of the people aged between 60 and 69 years, according to the news report carried by this daily.
They have asked the government to implement its array of decisions taken in favour of senior citizens. For instance, the government has announced to build geriatric wards with 24 beds but in the absence of the specialised doctors, the decision seems to have gone down the tube. At the moment, there are only four geriatricians in the country. Similarly, no care home providers have their own ambulance and emergency services. The government is working to construct a senior citizen hospital at Gothatar in Kathmandu but it must translate other commitments into action to the benefit of over 2.7 million senior citizens. In his message delivered on the occasion, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has expressed commitment to making the lives of senior citizens comfortable and blissful. The PM has stated that the government, via various ministries, departments and organisations, is working to make sure that the senior citizens live an easy life and receive proper treatment when they are sick.
Our eastern culture attaches high importance to the elderly people who possess the treasure of knowledge, experiences and wisdom. It is our tradition to listen to their precious advice and apply it to solving problems in the family, society and the nation as a whole. At this time of unprecedented health crisis, they need greater attention and care. It is imperative for all to pay heed to their medical, social, economic and psychological problems. In so doing, we do not only discharge our duty but also keep our core civilisational and ethical values intact.