A call for supportive ageing policy: 2020 UNDOP

The call for a supportive ageing policy framework was heard with increasing crescendo at the just-ended United Nations International day for Older Persons celebrated at Mazowe River Bridge Centre Old Peoples Home in Rushinga. Speaking to a 300 plus bumper crowd of mainly older persons and key government stakeholders the HelpAge Zimbabwe Executive Director and Zimbabwe Older Persons Board Chairperson, Priscilla Gavi continued her call for the Government of Zimbabwe to expedite the process to ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on Human & People’s Rights on the Rights of Older Persons. She noted that the signing of the protocol and the subsequent formulation of older persons’ policy framework, will invariably give effect to the aspirations of the Older Persons Act of 2012.

Hon Minister Prof Mavhima, distributing donations to older persons

Hon Minister Prof Mavhima, distributing donations to older persons

The event was officiated by the Hon. Minister of Public Service Labour & Social Welfare, Prof. PaulMavhima, who also pointed out the need for an enabling policy environment that ensures social inclusion of older persons in humanitarian action.International Day for Older Persons is observed on the first of October every year. It is a United Nations designated day to focus on the well-being and special needs of older persons. The UN General Assembly designated October 1 as the International Day of Older Persons on December 14, 1990

Running under the theme: Pandemics: Do They Change How We Address Age And Ageing?,in line with the Covid-19 pandemic, statistics have confirmed that older persons are the most affected and are at risks due to their underlying health conditions.

This year’s theme, points to the leading role of the United Nations in fostering a society of all ages one in which young and old, men and women, rich and poor, can enjoy long, happy healthy lives with respect and dignity during emergency situations.

The Minister of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare, Professor Mavima reiterated that “a country’s worth is measured by its ability to cater for vulnerable citizens including orphans, widows, older persons and people living with disabilities.  The need to have fully functioning care institutions with transport for residents and income generating projects for self-sustenance is government’s priority right now”

The Older Persons Board Chairperson Mrs P.S.Gavi gave a speech in which she alluded that,“Of particular concern to the older persons board are a thousands of poor older persons throughout the country who are struggling alone to make ends meet, who have no access to basic social and health services and who suffer violence and abuse especially from their own children and family. They need greater support. It is also time to ensure greater support for the many older persons who are care givers of grandchildren or orphaned children affected by AIDS. Pandemics like Cyclone Idai, Drought of last year and now Covid 19 only add to the problems faced by older persons.  The Board urges all stakeholders in the Humanitarian sector to consider the situation of older persons during emergency interventions.  There is a greater need for PPEs, food, clothing, psychological support and a well-coordinated humanitarian response.’

Overally, the event was a huge success with leaders in the corporate world coming to the table to support older persons projects. Delta Beverages donated a cheque of ZWL1 000 000 000.00 for Mazowe and Melfort Old Peoples’ Homes, KDV donated 15 bases and mattresses to Mazowe, Mrs Jimu donated clothes, plates and cutlery.  HelpAge Zimbabwe in conjunction with NANZ donated 50 food hampers. The Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare donateda tonne of rice, 20 bales of blankets and clothes, a wheel chair as well as a walking frame to the 15 older persons at Mazowe River Bridge Centre and 35 other Older Persons from the surrounding community, and promised to take a bold step to change the lives of older persons especially now when pensions have become eroded by inflation, when the burden of orphans weighs heavily on old people and when the general economic situation is making it difficult for family support to be forthcoming.  It is now that we should be talking of safeguarding and making sure that older persons are included in all development programs.