Claudia Naluyima Kamya is 71 years, a widow. She is the district Councillor representing Older Persons in Mukono District, Central Uganda. She is also the Chairperson Gender Committee for Mukono District Council and National Treasurer of the Elders League Uganda. Claudia is a founder of the Happy lives for Elderly and Orphans, a Community Based Organization that works and advocates for improved welfare of older persons and orphans in Mukono district. She is a National Advocacy Champion with the Grandmothers Consortium, a national advocacy platform for older women in Uganda.Claudia is a retired civil servant having worked with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.She has additional training in Social Gerontology and Ageing from Nsamizi Training Institute of Social Development Uganda. She is the force behind affirmative action in health and social care for older persons in Mukono district, Uganda.
IMPROVING ACCESS TO HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE SERVICES FOR OLDER PERSONS IN AFRICA.
Today,more than 64.4 million older persons (60 years and above) are living in Africa with 84 older men for every 100 older women. By 2030, the number of older persons in Africa will have jumped to 105.4 million and tripled by 2050 to 220.3 million older persons. This is being facilitated by the improved health care systems, provision of clean water and better sanitation and nutrition.The already strained public infrastructure is however not prepared for the growing number of older persons across the continent. Without progressive action at the local, national and regional levels, the growing number of older persons will experience the same stigma, vulnerability, invisibility and weak public infrastructure as exists across most African Countries today.
Progressive action must begin by addressing ageism. Most common biases against old age include discriminatory beliefs and behaviours; marginalization and exclusion of older persons across cultures and countries. This reality is reflected in the fact that for too long, older persons have been overlooked in the international development and global agendas. Ageism reflects in the lack of data on HIV and AIDS prevalence for older persons, slow effort to respond to the rise in Non Comunicable Diseases (NCDs) in Africa which primarily impacts older persons. As such older persons are particularly vulnerable and lack awareness and access to basic services that enable good health and well being.
Notably as the impacts of marginalization and inequality add up over the life course, older women are made particularly vulnerable. This is exacerbated by the fact that women tend to live longer than men but as widows, face both social and cultural exclusion with no assets to support income security for management of NCD conditions.
In order to achieve the World Health organization Global Strategy and Action Plan and Sustainable Development Goals related to health and well being, strong and empowering policy action is needed. This will entail;
- Undertaking strong campaigns at all levels and across all sectors to address ageism.
2. Strengthening the quality of data disaggregation, analysis and information sharing.
3. Involving older persons in decision making including policies, plans and strategy drafting and ensure their voices are prioritized for decisions that affect them.
4. Addressing NCDs in older persons- both those NCDs outlined by World Health Organization (Cardiovascular diseases, cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes) and all chronic and associated complications.
5. Improving access to information, services, essential medicines and technologies for older persons.
6. Investing in geriatrics and gerontology both by skilling the health personnel and improving their attitudes towards older persons.
Conclusion: People who age in better health can remain productive for longer continuing to make significant contributions to their families and communities.