The Federal Government will continue to strengthen the protection of human rights of older persons in Nigeria, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has said.
Ehanire made the statement at the African Regional High-Level Conference on “Human Rights Situation of Older Persons” at ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja on Monday.
He said that the elderly would be key to changing the game in Africa.
According to him, Nigeria has endorsed and is committed to achieving goals and targets of the Global Strategic Plan of Action on Health and Ageing 2016-2020.
He said that the country also endorsed the 2020-2030 Decade of Healthy Ageing, which addresses SDG No.3 on Health and Wellbeing.
He said the ministry held a national summit on healthy ageing in December 2018 and formally committed to advocating a conducive social environment for healthy ageing.
Ehanire noted that the establishment and implementation of comprehensive health services for the elderly included care at point of need, research and training of caregivers at all levels of government.
The minister said that the commitment was to be articulated through the establishment of geriatric centres at tertiary health institutions for clinical care.
He said the area of workforce would be in collaboration with technical support of international organisations, research on typical chronic ailments of the aged, community based physical and mental healthcare and psycho-social support.
“It is estimated that thousands of elderly, who could still live healthy, productive lives, unfortunately die yearly from preventable or controllable chronic diseases.
“The ministry has thus generated a healthcare package for improving quality of care of the ageing population in Nigeria, the HEPIQ-C Project.
“It is to address the health rights of the ageing population.
“In this connection, the Nigerian Government recently launched its National Policy Framework on Healthcare for the Aged, titled “Healthy Ageing”.
“It is presumably the first of such policy in sub-Saharan Africa meant to provide a model for healthcare to geriatric populations in our region.
“To achieve and sustain it in both rural and urban settings, the policy is integrated into our Universal Health Coverage strategy.”’
Tony Ojukwu, Executive Secretary, National Human Right Commission, said that the demography of ageing was creating new challenge.
He listed such challenges as protecting the rights of people living with dementia, older detainees, and the equitable allocation of resources in health care.
Ojukwu, also the Vice-Chair, Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutes, said that older people’s rights of access to justice, equality before the law and the rights to housing, privacy and a private life required greater attention.
He added that age discrimination was when someone was treated differently with an unreasonable or disproportionate impact, simply because of their age.
“It is a violation of older people’s rights,” he said.
Dr Emen Omokaro, Convener, Stakeholders Group on Ageing in Africa, asked that the rights of older people should be embedded in international human rights conventions on economic, social, civil and political rights.
“Our rights do not change as we grow older.
“What changes is that older women and men are considered to be inherently less valuable to society.
“At the same time, as people get older, they face increasing barriers to their participation; become more dependent on others and lose some or all of their personal autonomy.
“These threats to their dignity can make them more susceptible to neglect, abuse and violation of their rights,” she said.