Wednesday 30 November 2022 - 1:20:08 am

'Let us commit to engagement with older people, says WHO on International Day of Older Persons


NEW YORK, 30th September, 2022 (WAM) -- On October 1, the international community celebrates the International Day of Older Persons.

First observed in 1991, the General Assembly of the United Nations designated this day to draw attention to the important contribution of seniors and to changing demographics: the greying of the population, or the "age of ageing." The Day is marked as a way of providing education on public issues and concerns, to mobilize for change and action and to celebrate achievements.

The overall umbrella theme for the United Nations International Day of Older Persons in 2022 is "Resilience of Older Persons in a Changing World."

''Let us commit to engagement with older people, in all their diversities, to hear and amplify their voices, and ultimately, to realise the progress that is so critically needed,'' said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, in a message marking the Day.

In African culture, she noted, the elderly have always been held in high esteem, and accorded special social status. They are a source of wisdom, influencing who we are, and who we aspire to be.

''The International Day of Older Persons on 1 October every year is a key opportunity to celebrate the lives of our senior citizens, while highlighting both the opportunities and the challenges that ageing presents.'' ''This year’s theme, "Resilience of Older Persons in a Changing World", reminds us of the significant contributions that older people still have to make in all our lives. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, we saw many retired health workers return to work to help protect their communities. In Africa, millions of families also rely heavily on older relatives, from caring for grandchildren, to contributing much-needed income to households.

''The day also provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of leaving no one behind, especially in the context of the declaration of 2021-2030 as the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing. Taking cognisance of the voices, perspectives and needs of our elders is critical to the creation of meaningful, holistic policies that advance us towards the achievement of Universal Health Coverage across the continent.

''With older people at higher risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19, the pandemic has also highlighted the urgent need to prioritise the safety of our ageing population, who are especially vulnerable in times of crisis.

''On this International Day of Older Persons today, let us commit to make the fundamental shifts necessary to foster healthy ageing. The four areas for action include the need to pursue age-friendly environments free of physical and social barriers; to combat discriminatory ageism; to ensure access to good-quality essential health services; and to provide rehabilitative resources when these become necessary, she concluded.

WAM/Tariq alfaham