The Federal Ministry of Health, (FMoH) says it is working to achieve the 2020 Global Strategy action plan for the older population in the country. Dr Saidu Dumbulwa, Coordinator, Healthcare Package for Improving Quality Care on Ageing Population in Nigeria (HEPIQ-C), disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, on Thursday in Abuja, in commemoration of the International Day of Older Persons 2020.
Dumbulwa said the strategy was a significant step forward in establishing a framework for member states; even as the World Health Organisation (WHO), Secretariat and partners were to contribute to achieving the vision that all people could live long and healthy lives.
The Strategy has two goals:
- Five years (2016 – 2020) evidence-based action to maximize functional ability that reach every person.
- Establish evidence and partnerships necessary to support a Decade of Healthy Ageing from 2020 to 2030.
Specifically, the Strategy focuses on five strategic objectives:
- Commitment to action on Healthy Ageing in every country
- Developing age-friendly environments
- Aligning health systems to the needs of older populations
- Developing sustainable and equitable systems for providing long-term care (home, communities, institutions)
- Improving measurement, monitoring and research on Healthy Ageing
The coordinator said that in 2016 Nigeria proposed the strategy document and it was immediately launched into a project package to improve the quality of older people in the country.
According to him, “immediately after the endorsement, we felt there was a need to conduct a need assessment to know whether our health workers are aware of what the health and ageing is all about and the outcome of the result came out grossly adequate. This actually resulted to the urgent need to come up with a project on how to go about addressing this and that’s how the project came out.”
“We have four termatic pillars clinical care; we have research, training, workforce and health social. At this moment, I am telling you that as far as the clinical care is concerned in trying to align to the health system, the global health system on the health care of the older persons; we have planned to actually establish regional centres that will address this issue of gross inadequacy of the workforce.”
“While we have gentricoans across the country and at this moment we have started post graduate resident trainings for colleges of West African and National Hospitals, Universities Teaching Hospitals, Benin, Port Harcourt and Maiduguri, University College hospital. We also have trained over 500 people in generic courses, which is actually welcomed.”
He disclosed that Nigeria had also developed and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a foreign University of Western, and in January some Nigerians would be going to study health and ageing, the clinical perspective. He said that it was important for Nigerians to understand the issue of health social support in the country for the older population.
“In 2018, the president, during the launch of the rehabilitation of the primary health care, did say, he is committed to improve the quality of healthcare of the vulnerable children and women. Thereafter, we are able to come together and presented a bill to the president, who consented to the bill of establishing national citizen.”
“This centre is coming up under the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and it will be working mainly in addressing health component and all the aged person’s problems in the country.”
The coordinator noted that the national citizen would come up with the component and this was one of the kind in the whole ECOWAS region.
“As we are forging ahead to achieve the 2020-2030 Sustainable Development Goals, we cannot achieve that without focusing on the elderly people with their population of over 15 million Nigerians that are over 60 years of age. These people are equivalent to three to five African countries population.”
“This is the population that we cannot ignore that is why the Nigerian government is committed and that is why the issue of providing formal health care insurance in Nigeria for the older people is one of the commitment of this present administration.”
Dumbulwa said to that effect, the country was working on coming up with a committee that would work in collaboration with stakeholders such as the National Pension Commission (PenCom), The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), and the National Union of Retired Civil Servant and FMoH to see how Nigeria would actually come to provide this kind of health insurance for older persons.
“We will focus on people who have retired from the service to continue with the health insurance and those people who are in the informal sector that have never worked with the government but have reached the age 70 so that they can also benefit from this package that the government have for them.
“So, at this moment, Nigeria is one of the countries in the ECOWAS region that is leading in terms of this global strategy plans for action for ageing, and efforts to achieving universal health coverage for older persons.”
He said that the government has moved from where it was before in 2016 to where it is now and there is hope in terms of health and social support, which the government has plans for.
“We have strategic plan by health agent, strategic framework that is meant to address these issues at the ECOWAS level, we have plan for 2020-2024 in the ECOWAS member states. We are very optimistic that the health care and social care of older persons will improve for Nigerians.”
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