By Ikenna Osuoha
Coalition of Societies for the Rights of Older People in Nigeria (COSROPIN) has called on the Federal Government to prioritise the healthcare of the elderly to reduce their vulnerability to COVID-19 infection.
Sen. Eze Ajoku, President of the coalition, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
He expressed concerns over the impact of the second phase of COVID-19 on older people.
Ajoku, reacting to recent COVID-19 linked deaths of older persons such as Prof. Oye Ibidabo-Obe and others, said that there was a need for urgent action to mitigate the strain of the second phase of the pandemic on older people.
He reiterated the need for preventive interventions.
Ajoku said that concerted action was needed to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 across all aspects of long-term care, including home and community-based care.
He, however, admonished older people to always comply with the health protocols of hand washing, the use of facemasks and physical distancing.
“We can directly reduce the disease by ensuring regular testings, provision of healthcare, and observing safety protocols.
“This would indirectly reduce the severity of the disease on the people most likely to get sick and transmit the virus,” he said.
Emphasising on the need for home delivery of healthcare for older people, Ajoku added that facemasks and other safety protocols should be seen as a responsibility of all.
He noted that COVID-19 would reduce the number of healthcare workers as well as long-term facilities, thereby increasing the brunt of older persons’ underlining sicknesses.
He, therefore, warned older people against mingling with crowds, which he said was the biggest cause of community transmission.
“We have called on the government to provide geriatric wards in all Federal Medical Centres and Teaching Hospitals to safeguard older persons and provide targeted care,” he said.
He, however, called for adequate supply of food and healthcare facilities, especially in the rural areas, to foster old peoples’ health in the second phase of COVID-19.
“Many people, especially older persons who have not lost relations and friends, do not think COVID-19 is real.
“They should make hey to protect themselves first while doubting, because life does not give a second chance,” he said.
He said that older people with co-morbidities and frailty with high susceptibility to COVID-19 should be accorded priority in the containment through information and provision of healthcare facilities.
“Although, the speed and impact of the pandemic on older people with frailty justify an approach where they are offered healthcare wherever they are located first,” he said. (NAN)