The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has advocated for the inclusion of older persons into the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) as part of the process towards achieving a comprehensive health coverage in Nigeria.
The Executive Secretary of of the Commission Tony Ojukwu Esq who stated this in Abuja at a press conference on the commemoration of the International Day of the older persons 2019 observed that comprehensive health coverage is critical and that it complements this year’s theme, “The Journey to Age Equality”.
According to Ojukwu, the need to combat the threat posed by the neglect and abuse of older persons is imminent as lack or denial of human rights of this vulnerable group has far reaching health and social consequences.
The Chief Human Rights Officer in Nigeria called on the Federal Ministry Health to partner with other relevant stakeholders to comprehensively implement the National Policy on Health Care for Older Persons, saying that it will go a long way to address the health issues associated with ageing.
The Executive Secretary disclosed that the Commission is working assiduously with relevant Ministers Department and Agencies (MDAs) and Civil Society Organisation (CSOs) towards a successful hosting of the first African Regional Conference on the rights of Older Persons scheduled to take place at ECOWAS Parliament, Abuja on 20th of November, 2019.
Ojukwu also said that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has been elected the Vice Chair of the Global Alliance of Network of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) Working Group on Ageing in South Korea. He said this feat will further spur the Commission in setting a standard for Africa given its commitment in promoting and protecting the rights of older persons in Nigeria.
In her remarks, the Founder of Dave Omokaro Foundation, Emen Omokaro said that the need to realize the human rights of the older persons and indeed everyone in the society is captured in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and that efforts should be made by the relevant authorities to give life to these goals.
She said that there is no distinction between the rights of the older persons and those of the younger persons adding that there should be equally of rights from the cradle to old age, saying that it is by so doing that the nation will realize equal opportunity and equal protection irrespective of age differences.
In his remarks, the National Project Coordinator, HEPIQ-C Project Health for the Aged, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Seidu Ahmed said that his Office is very proactive in addressing the health challenges of the older persons and that part of their efforts in this regard is the free training of health care professionals on health and ageing to support the older persons in the country.
He said that population of Nigerians who have clocked 60 years and above is about 10 million and that a well coordinated Primary Health Care Facility is needed to tackle the health challenges of this huge number of citizens.
Representative from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Ms Sweet Okundaye said that her Ministry ensured that the Senior Citizens Act was enacted to eliminate discrimination and neglect often experienced by the older persons even from their relatives, as it provides for stiff punishment for offenders.
She said that the Federal Ministry of Justice supports the idea of hosting the African Regional Conference to address the teething challenges facing the older persons and that her Ministry will take seriously the outcome of the confab.