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Published On: Mon, Oct 5th, 2020

Disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on older people unacceptable -WHO

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From Uche Uche, Damaturu

As the World Health Organization and partners mark the International Day of Older Persons to celebrate senior citizens around the world and to take stock of the opportunities and challenges related to ageing gracefully, younger ones have been urged to reciprocate the love shown by the elders by shaping the lives of younger ones which helped them become what they are today.
Governments have equally been called on to put in place programmes aimed at caring for the aged ones in their policy making and also in budgeting to provide means of helping older ones enjoy lives amidst weaknesses associated with ageing.
This is contained in a press release from the office of Onuekwe, Chima Emmanuel, World Health Organisation, Health Emergencies Programme, North-east, Nigeria containing the message of WHO Regional Director for Africa.
“Our elders provide us with love and care, and are a source of wisdom and talent, influencing who we are and who we aspire to be. Together we have a duty to support older people in realizing their human rights and living with dignity,” stated the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti in her message to mark The International Day of Older Persons.
The International Day of Older Persons is an annual celebration of senior citizens around the world and a chance to take stock of the opportunities and challenges related to population ageing towards ensuring societies are accommodating of all ages.
She pointed out that the 2020 year theme was tagged “Pandemics: do they change how we address age and ageing?” because older people are at higher risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, regretting that in the African Region, more than 17 000 people aged over 55 years have lost their lives to COVID-19, accounting for over 50% of the COVID-19 deaths in the Region.
To address the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on older people, she said, all stakeholder in caring for older person must play a role in shielding these elders, including by practicing the preventive measures of wearing masks, keeping a physical distance, and frequently washing our hands.
Other measures include continuity of other essential services for older people such as offering multi-month prescriptions for people with chronic diseases to reduce the frequency of visits to health-care facilities.
Also in some countries, such as Mauritius, health workers are reaching out to older people in their homes, to ensure that services, like the seasonal flu shot, continue to be delivered.

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