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Published On: Thu, Apr 2nd, 2020

Gerontologists to FG: Include older persons in coronavirus palliatives

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By Miriam Humbe

The Gerontology Association of Nigeria (GERAN) and Dave Omokaro Foundation (DOF) have presented a special appeal to the President and the federal government apparatus in charge of dispensing the palliatives, to consider older persons as a special category for the COVID- 19 social assistance.
Dr. Emem Omokaro who doubles as the President, Gerontology Association of Nigeria and Executive Director, Dave Omokaro Foundation (working in conjunction with the United Nations International Institute on Ageing in Malta) expressed these concerns in a statement in Abuja.
Dr. Omokaro noted that there are obvious gaps in the existing Social Investment Program (SIP) approach to cash transfers, which targets poor households, but leaves older household members falling through the cracks.
Both Dave Omokaro Foundation and the Gerontology Association of Nigeria expressed concern about how the government would ensure that poor Nigerians hitherto not captured in the current operating data base are not left behind.
She said: “That discrimination on the bases of age, gender, disability, ethnicity and location be checked and a proper mechanism that would guarantee the reach of those furthest from the first be firstly put in place.
“Specifically, in it’s current form, the implementation of the social protection programs has no social assistance or market Labor programs dedicated to poor senior citizens; the Senior citizens Act signed in 2018 still has no strategic implementation plan and therefore, there are no health care, economic empowerment or social pensions programs for senior citizens as legislated.
“Research has shown that less than 2% of older persons within the households receive the intended benefits. The N5,000 per month given for household empowerment with the prevailing ageist attitude towards older members of the household, minimizes their chances of being direct recipients.”
Dr. Omokaro revealed that information gathered from the experiences of other countries has exposed the severe risk older persons, more than other demographics face, should they contract COVID -19 and also spot-lighted the health and socio-economic inequalities older persons encounter.
She said: “The current approach makes the assumption about non-discrimination of older persons and neglects the chronic health condition and the out of pocket expenditure on health care.
“More than ever before, government should take deliberate steps to check age discrimination by ensuring that the palliative measures target older person in the short term while instituting a dedicated Social pensions – (old age grant) for means tested poor and vulnerable older persons in Nigeria just as it does for children, youth and business owners”.
She appreciated the speed with which the federal government is moving to implement the recently announced social investment palliative for poor Nigerians, to cushion the socio- economic pressure of the lockdown to combat the spread of COVID-19.
“The Dave Omokaro Foundation and the Gerontology Association of Nigeria wish to appreciate the Federal government for the interventions and to speak to the necessity of a well thought out and all – inclusive implementation framework and stakeholder engagement mechanism.
“The National Policy on Social Protection provides the framework for the implementation of the current National Social Investment programs.
“Already in operation are Social assistance programs in form of unconditional cash transfers to poor households; the home grown school feeding program; the N -Power Initiative for youth; Trader Money; Farmer Money etc.
“It would be therefore safe to assume, that these already existing programs would be expanded as special vehicle or mechanisms for the COVID-19 palliative treatment as announced by the President”, Omokaro said.

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  1. I know Dr Omokaro’s capacity. She is a fighter. Much appreciation. Indeed older people deserve a positive discrimination. From Vijay Naraidoo of ngo DIS MOI of Mauritius.

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