Older persons must be protected by law and loved by society: Masabane

Rodney Pienaar
The way we treat elders contributes to them living long healthy, happy lives, says the Executive Director of the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS), Petronella Masabane. “Elders must be protected by law and loved by society. Every person should have the opportunity to live long and healthy life, yet the environment in which our elders love can favour health or be harmful to it. ” she remarked at the National Consultation on the National Policy on Rights, Protection and Care of older persons in Namibia currently ongoing in Swakopmund on Tuesday.

According to Masabane, Namibia has made good progress in some respects for elders such as the provisions of pension funds in the country and the availability of 17 long term care facilities registered in the country.

World Health Organisation (WHO) representative, Dr, Charles Sagoe- Moses highlighted that environments are highly influential on people’s behaviour and exposure to health risk, access to services and the opportunities that ageing brings. “The WHO defines healthy ageing as the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables well-being in older age. Functional ability is determined by the intrinsic capacity of the individual that is the combination of all the individual’s physical and mental capacities. Environment he or she inhabits, that is understood in the broadest sense and including physical, social and policy environments and the interaction between these.”

Sagoe-Moses said that national and social systems that should foster healthy ageing in the African region are beset by various issues and challenges. “These include ageism and other forms of discrimination towards old persons, shortage of resources, poor organization and management, weak governance and limited health and social services packages.”

The governor of the Erongo region, Neville Andre said that there are areas where Namibia’s elders are subjected to immense suffering and struggle. “They are made to stand in long queues. Both public and private spaces should offer the necessary services such as chairs for elderly, whilst waiting to be attended to. Andre added that those who cannot access offices should receive the required services either at their dwellings or in close proximity. “Our elders should equally not be send from post to pillar just to access services.”