By Ikenna Osuoha
Coalition of Societies for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria (COSROPIN) has advocated quality and accessible healthcare for older people in the country.
The President of the coalition, Sen. Eze Ajoku, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Saturday on the occasion of the International Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day.
Officially fixed for Dec. 12 by the UN, the day was fixed to advocate for strong, equitable health systems that would leave no one behind.
It is also to ensure that all people, everywhere, get quality health services they need without financial hardship.
The president of the coalition, therefore, who said that older persons were faced with many underlying health challenges, urged government and relevant stakeholders to prioritise the health of older persons through health insurance policies and subsidised or free medicare.
He also called for available and accessible medical facilities in rural areas where most older people live.
Ajoku said “records show that older people frequent hospitals more than younger people and usually present several health challenges. They, therefore, need regular check ups and geriatric care as a result of dementia, chronic lung issues, diabetes or heart disease.
“Many older people are facing financial difficulties and as such, cannot afford the bills required to keep them healthy; they need health insurance.”
He explained that affordable and accessible healthcare for older people was critical to leaving no one behind, in accordance with the aim of the UHC.
According to him, health for all should be targeted at all vulnerable members of the society, including the senior citizens.
He commended the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire and the Ministry of Health for inaugurating a 14-man Ministerial Committee chaired by former Permanent Secretary of Health, Linus Awute, on the provision of health insurance for retirees and the elderly.
Ajoku said that the measure was a step in the right direction toward provision of health insurance for the older people and called for more efforts to maintain Primary Healthcare centres (PHCs).
He appealed for functional PHCs in all the 774 local government areas of the country and engagement and training of geriatric personnel to guarantee quality healthcare for older persons.
He also called for the establishment of geriatric words in all Federal Medical Centres and state general hospitals.
He said that chronic stress, repeated exposure to infectious diseases like COVID-19 and chronic inflammation caused by harsh living conditions were threats to the lives of older people.
He noted that “older people are the worst hit by COVID-19 globally because of underlying health challenges and the lesson learnt is to step up efforts in protecting and caring for the senior citizens in event of health emergencies.”
The senator, who reiterated the imperatives of national commitment to UHC, said it was key to achieving the 16 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially with its slogan of leaving no one behind. (NAN)