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We can’t afford neglecting elders

PROMOTION of elders’ rights and protection of the senior citizens against exploitation, abuse and neglect cannot be overemphasised.

Tanzania, like many other countries in Africa and globally, have devised various programmes to assist the seniors to exercise their rights, secure their entitled benefits and lead abuse-free lives.

Under the National Health Policy of 2007, Tanzania appreciates elders as special group that needs top priority in provision of health services.

Even the establishment of Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF), which seeks to improve the wellbeing of poverty stricken families, has special focus on old persons in the country.

Protection of elders against abuse is one of the government’s top priorities. Generally, elder abuse refers to intentional or neglectful acts that lead to harm of an older adult.

The abuse may be physical, emotional, psychological, verbal, sexual or financial. And, speaking at the national level commemoration of the International Day of Older Persons in Mtwara on Tuesday, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa reaffirmed the government commitment to sustained decent lives for elders.

He directed all district councils in the country to continuously identify old person to guarantee them fee-free access to medical services, saying the government will continually invest in improvement of infrastructure and creation of friendly environments for the seniors.

Unfortunately, complaints are rife that majority elders, especially in rural areas hardly enjoy the promised benefits—especially free and readily available medical care.

And, the many hapless seniors rooming the streets—particularly in big cities like Dar es Salaam—with begging bowls are testimony of the level of neglect that the country’s seniors have been subjected to.

Caring of the country’s elders—the very persons who spent most of their productive time and energies building the foundation of the beautiful Tanzania we are enjoying today—starts at the family level.

It’s a key responsibility of family members, communities and finally the government to ensure give elders—the national treasures—the standard of lives they deserve.

Mwandishi: Editor

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