The Honourable Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora has stated that if we attend to issues of older persons, it is an enlightened self-interest because the natural process is ageing which means that if we are lucky enough, we will also become older persons; if we put in place whatever will support the older persons, we are also helping ourselves.”
Dr. Mamora made this remark to support the need to accede to some of the requests made by a visiting delegation of Coalition of Societies for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria (COSROPIN) led by Senator Dr Eze Ajoku of the Graceful Ageing Fellowship (GRAF) and others who visited Friday, 11th September, 2020 to partner the Government and stakeholders on the issues of older persons and to obtain firsthand feedback on the activities of the Ministry on promises made to older person which include establishment of 6 regional Geriatric Hospitals as well as the training of Doctors and Nurses in this area.
COSROPIN delegation also sought to know if the National Non-Contributory Health Insurance for the Over-70 Years Old which started with the Police will be extended to other Civil and Non-Civil Servants of Over-70 Years old.
The delegates further sought to know if the Ministry of Health has completed the review of its operational manuals of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF). The body also sought update on the promised revitalization of over 10, 000 Primary Health Care Centres (PHCs) across the country. COSROPIN wanted an extension of palliative in form of free or reduced prices of drugs or other actions given the current rampaging COVID-19 pandemic. They expressed the wish to have this made available in FG hospitals.
The visiting older persons’ coalition also came to explore re-engagement opportunities of their members especially the health workers – Nurses, Midwife etc who could still work and support for Nursing Homes and Day Care Centers for older persons.
A particularly touching issue of a dead but not buried 97 year old Mrs. Ikwo Akpan Umoh of Ukana Ikot Osom in Ukana East, Essien Udom LGA in Akwa Ibom, whose body is still in a mortuary was highlighted as one of the deprivations suffered by older persons which the visitors want the Minister to intervene in.
The Older Persons Rights and Privileges Bill, 2019 which was reported to have passed 2nd Reading in the Senate, the visitors requested for the Minister to ensure that such is passed into Law.
On many of the issues so raised by his visitors, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora told the visitors that he is immediately stepping in to ensure that the needful is done on the dead but not buried 97 year old Mrs. Ikwo Akpan Umoh of Ukana Ikot Osom in Ukana East, Essien Udom LGA in Akwa Ibom: engaging the representatives of the community in the National Assembly and escalating such to the Governor of Akwa-Ibom;
On the Older Persons Rights and Privileges Bill, 2019, Dr. Mamora asked to be furnished with details and pledged to follow up;
On the issue of the 6 regional Geriatric Hospitals as well as the training of Doctors and Nurses in this area, the Honourable Minister of State disclosed that he has information that assessment has been made cutting across the six geo-political zones to be located at Ibadan, Kano, Maiduguri, Owerri, and other places but presently they are already established at Ibadan, Benin and Port-Harcourt. He disclosed further that issue of funds challenge has been there.
On the issue of National Non-Contributory Health Insurance, the Minister disclosed that this has started but it is a process which needs to be taken further to include other sectors, but he also identified funding constraints and promised to make this a priority for him to follow up on;
On the issue of operational manual, because we know that anyone can require emergency health care we have fast tracked actions on the Basic Health Care Provision Fund [BHCPF} and the National Emergency Management System and Ambulance Scheme. We had some issues about the BHCPF earlier but we have overcome this and that document has been passed. Dr. Mamora said that this administration is concerned with making our primary health care centers to be functional, “We are concerned with revitalization which will make for its functionality. There is need to ensure accessibility of the PHCs; boreholes for water supply, alternative energy (Solar power) for electricity supply, human resources for health; essential services – immunization against childhood diseases, health education, nutrition, essential drugs, dehydration treatment, etc.”
On COVID-19 treatment for older persons, Dr. Mamora advised that since the treatment is free in Government hospitals, he advised them to take advantage of the free treatment.
On Nursing Homes and Day Care Centers for Older persons, the Minister said even though this may not be in line with African culture, he disclosed that development has compelled the present administration to be looking at what can be done in the circumstances but that State Authorities and FCTA regulate such homes. He said FG can only advise.
Older persons who came visiting the Honourable Minister include Dame Mary Ikokwu, Secretary General- Save Our Heritage Initiative (SOHI); Victoria Onu, Grace Nursing Centre; Sir Peter Aliu, Senior Citizens and Elder’s Forum of Nigeria (SCEFON); AIG Steven Aiyewunmi , Association Retired Police Officers of Nigeria (ARPON); Rear Admiral Koye Ekezie, Retired Army, Navy and Airforce Officers (RENAO); Rear Admiral Christopher Ehamor, Senior Citizens Advocacy Network of Nigeria (SCANON); Dr. Goddy Edozie, Graceful Ageing Fellowship (GRAF); Deaconess Tina Chukwuka – Association of Retired Senior Civil Servants; Elder SBS Abuh of Association of Retired Secretaries and Reporters of Nigeria; Com. Christian Azunna of Nigeria Union of Pensioners; Com Adesina Abiodun of Nigeria Union of Pensioners; Petra O’ Blakk of Reconnect Africa and Armstrong Agatsa of Administrative Officer of COSROPIN.
By Blessing Efem
Oyetomi Olujimi, Director, Inf, Media & PR.