Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - Emmanuel Daniel Joof, commissioner and chairperson of The Gambia's first National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said here Thursday that older persons are an integral part of society and repository of history and wisdom.
“They make major contributions to society, particularly rural women, who play an important role in the social fabric of communities,” he said in a statement marking International Day of Older Persons here.
The Day aims to raise awareness of the impact of an ageing population and the need to ensure that people can grow old with dignity and continue to participate in society as citizens with full rights.
According to the UN, the number of older persons in the world will grow from about 600 million to almost 2 billion over the next five decades.
Today, one in ten persons is aged 60 or over. By 2050, this will be one person in five, and by 2150, one in three.
However, Joof said, given the current status of older persons, the “NHRC expresses deep concern over the lack of social protection for them and therefore urges the Chapter IV of the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia to include provisions on the rights and protection of older persons as was reflected in Section 63 of the draft 2020 Constitution and provide a comprehensive health insurance and social protection coverage countrywide for older persons.
Joof revealed that in The Gambia, it is estimated that about four per cent of the population is above 65 years.
“This percentage is expected to increase to 12 per cent by 2050 with an increase in life expectancy as a result of The Gambia’s modest growth in its human development profile.
“Thus, like many developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, The Gambia will face incredible challenges in the demands of its ageing population that will require more investment in primary health care and development of robust social security schemes,” he said.
He pointed out that at present, “The Gambia lacks basic social protection for older persons, such as specialized care, health insurance, a social safety net or minimum income support and residential care facilities where needed”.
He stressed the need to ensure that older persons, particularly older women, have a significant voice in the formulation of elderly-friendly policies and in decision making processes at all levels.
-0- PANA MSS/RA 1Oct2020