AU urged to protect senior citizens

ADDIS ABABA. – African governments should adopt global instruments that advance the welfare of elderly persons in the continent, campaigners said on Saturday on the sidelines of the AU Heads of State Summit in Addis Ababa.

The campaigners urged African leaders and policymakers to recognise the welfare of elderly persons who often suffer from discrimination, neglect, poverty and ill health.

Toby Porter, CEO of Help Age International, said in an open letter to the African leaders that their commitment was crucial to strengthen the protection of older persons through a raft of policy and legislative frameworks.

“As leaders in this continent, your commitment to ensure older people are treated with dignity and respect is paramount,” said Porter.

Porter noted that African states are signatory to several global statutes that seek to eliminate physical and psychological abuse of the elderly population. He noted that African states have made steady progress in mainstreaming policies and legislation that advance the welfare of older people.

“The protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Older Persons is presented to you for adoption at an opportune moment. It provides a guiding framework for realising the rights of older women and men,” Porter told African leaders.

He added that provision of basic services like health, nutrition, clean water and sanitation to the elderly people was key to realising sustainable development in Africa.

Statistics from the United Nations indicate that Africa has over 60 million elderly persons and the figure could reach 105 million by 2030.

Prafulla Mishra, director of Help Age International, East, Central and Western Africa region, called upon governments to enact robust policies and legislation in order to cushion older persons from all forms of discrimination. He emphasised that political goodwill is key to strengthening the protection of older people across Sub-Saharan Africa.

“African leaders have an obligation to ensure elderly people are accorded the respect they deserve,” he said. – Xinhua.

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