With growing concern for the welfare of Nigeria’s senior citizens, medical experts have called for special government policies geared towards improving the well-being of elderly persons.
They stated that many developed counties considered the aged as major contributors to the historical development of nations, it was also important for Nigeria to give special attention to its senior citizens.
Speaking at an event organised to mark the 2018 United Nations International Day of Older Persons in Benin, Edo State, the Chief Medical Director of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Prof Darlington Obaseki, described the elderly in Nigeria as a vulnerable segment of the society.
Obaseki said, “There are so many challenges and the resources are limited in our society. But we can try to take it a step at a time.
“Elderly persons have to be spotlighted; they are very vulnerable just like children and infants. The economic situation in the country for a long time now, does not afford us that privilege to look after them well. We are saying that irrespective of our economic situation we should focus on them and realise that these people need special attention.”
Also, while delivering a lecture themed, ‘Human Rights Challenges and Prospects for Senior Citizens in Nigeria,’ the Team Lead, Geriatrics and Clinical Services, at the teaching hospital, Prof Obehi Akoria, noted that 67 per cent of the world’s elderly population lived in developing countries.
Akoria lamented that, in addition to challenges related to their pensions, the elderly were poorly treated by their relatives, subjected to poor living conditions and sidelined in decision-making.
Calling for more funding to improve medical treatment for elderly persons with acute healthcare needs, she tressed the need for more awareness among the older adults on their rights to be cared for, even as she noted that international human rights policies should be domesticated.
Akoria said, “We need legislation for older persons in this country. The challenges we have with funding are one reason we gave priority to the topic of accessing healthcare after retirement.
“More than 90 per cent pay for healthcare out of their pockets and you know that, in this regard, older adults are particularly vulnerable. So, we do need funding.”
Earlier, the Enogie of Evbuobanosa, Prof Gregory Akenzua, commended the management of the hospital for marking Nigeria’s 58 independence anniversary with retired workers who had served the country with youth vigour and commitment.