The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) has promised to establish six regional geriatric centres in tertiary hospitals with a view to improving the health status of older person in Nigeria.
Dr. Saidu Dumbulwa, coordinator, Healthcare Package for Improving Quality Care on Ageing Population in Nigeria (HEPIQ-C) who is also a Public Health expert, said the aim of establishing geriatric centres was to address the health and social needs of the elderly in the country, through the HEPIQ-C project.
He said the project was designed to advance elderly peoples’ health and address some developmental issues relating to them. He said President Muhammadu Buhari, had acknowledged the social and health problems the elderly population faced and saw the need to facilitate actions that would promote healthy living at old age.
According to him, governments are now becoming aware of the need to enact policies that would cater for the needs of the elderly who have become vulnerable, because people have forgotten that everyone is heading towards that stage.
He said that the ageing population in Nigeria was increasing and there was yet to be a concrete strategy, framework or system, for managing the social and health structure of the aged.
Dumbulwa noted that research assessment survey conducted in 2017 on Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP), of healthcare workers in the ageing sector, showed that they lacked training on geriatric care and gerontology.
“This might be one of the main reasons why adequate funds are not appropriately allocated to the care of older persons, as budgetary allocation goes with defence and justification.
“Based on the foregoing observation, the Nigerian government, following the regional World Health Organisation (WHO) meeting in Addis Ababa in 2016, set in motion an actionable strategy with a view to improving the health status of elderly in Nigeria,” he said.
The coordinator said that the Federal Government came up with the HEPIQ-C, to address the obvious aberration and neglect of the aged.
On how to identify issues that the elderly were facing in accessing health and social services in Nigeria, Dubulwa listed challenges such as lack of affordable health insurance, out of pocket health expenses and dearth of age-compliant public buildings, and transportation.