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Samia leaps elders’ hope

PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan yesterday highlighted key measures being taken by the government to improve the welfare of the elderly in the country, including review of the National Ageing Policy of 2003.

The Head of State said that the review of the policy will help among others to address some of the challenges facing the group as the government works to enact a law to safeguard their rights and welfare.

President Samia made the revelation during her meeting with about 900 elders of Dar es Salaam region held at Mlimani City Conference Hall.

Earlier, Chairman of the Dar es Salaam Elders’ Council, Mr Salim Matimbwa informed the president on various challenges facing the elders, including limited access to health care services and poor representation in various decision making bodies.

Responding, Ms Samia said that all elders in the country have the right to health services at all health centres, dispensaries or the national hospital.

She pledged to broaden elders’ access to health care services in the country and adopt measures that will help to protect them against the coronavirus pandemic.

“The committee of experts I formed recently to evaluate Covid -19 pandemic is finalising its work... we will ensure that elders are being protected since they are among groups which are at higher risk of contracting the disease,” she said.

She further said that in the current financial year, the social protection safety net which is coordinated by the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) is going to widen coverage in all districts in order to benefit more elders.

“Although the Tasaf scheme is coming to an end, the government on the other hand is preparing another scheme which will support the elders,” said President Samia.

The Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Dorothy Gwajima, pointed out that it is the duty of the ministry to promote the welfare of the elders.

She identified measures taken by the ministry, including implementation of the national strategy to end the killing of older people, reviewing of the ageing policy and improvement of health service delivery for the group.

Dr Gwajima observed that the National 2012 census shows that the country has 2.5 million elders, which is equivalent to 5.6 per cent of the entire population, and the number has increased to 2,524,559 elders.

“About 263 elders had been registered into government and private homes for the elders by April 21, this year. However, the ministry collaborates with the Regional Administration and Local Government in identifying the needs and welfares of the elder people, whereby by March 21, at least 1,837,167 elders had been recognized, of which 1,420,403 elders have been granted free health insurance cards,” she said.

She went on to reveal that the number of elders who have acquired health insurance cards has gone up by 30 percent from 213,025 elders in the year 2016/2017.

In recognizing the challenge facing elders in access to prescribed drugs and some of the tests as addressed by the chairman, President Samia had disbursed 80bn/- this April for the procurement of drugs.

Dr Gwajima also noted that the meeting held with the Chairperson of the Network of Elders along with her counterparts on April was part of a move to get to know and deliberate on the challenges facing the elder people.

Besides, they had agreed to formulate a three-person committee involving nurses, doctors and social welfare officers who will specifically deal with providing services for the elderly at health facilities in all municipalities.

“As of September 2019, at least 680,000 elders comprising of over 258,000 males and 421,000 female were recorded among the 1.1 million households benefiting from the TASAF scheme."

Among other issues which were earlier addressed by Mr Matimbwa is payment of pensions to elders, allocation of seats for elders in public transport and representation of elders in various decision making forums and improvement of homes.

AS the world moves towards marking the ...

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Author: MAUREEN ODUNGA

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