The Ministry of Health and Social Services has identified the need for the development of a comprehensive national policy on older persons, which would ensure their improved protection and care.
The overall objectives of this policy will be to ensure senior citizens’ rights, protection and care, and mainstream ageing in all national issues, policies and legislation.
The concerns of older persons have been deliberated upon in various national and international documents such as the Namibian constitution and national development plans (NDPs), among others.
A recent government tender referenced F1/13-11/2016 invited reputable consulting firms to conduct a situation analysis of the current state of affairs of Namibian elders and consequently draw up an envisaged draft policy document.
While both the National Pensions Act, 1992 (Act 10 of 1992) and Veterans Act, 2008 (Act 2 of 2008) primarily effected the payment of national pensions and integration of pension benefits to the aged (persons beyond 60 years of age), and to the visually impaired, the disabled and war veterans, the importance of psychosocial services has been largely overlooked.
The implementation of the national policy on older persons will furthermore ensure a participatory approach from different role players for the purpose of alleviating poverty amongst these vulnerable groups who are many a time, in addition to poverty, subjected to abuse and violence.
As a very effective guiding tool to develop this policy document the Guiding Framework and Toolkit for Practitioners of the Madrid International Plan for Action on Ageing will be pivotal in realizing its (national policy on older persons) objectives. This framework, amongst others, recognizes and values the contributions of older persons to society and furthermore regards them as part of the economic development of any country.
In a Namibian context older people are identified as persons over the age of 60 years, including those who are visually and physically challenged, while a veteran is regarded as any person who was a member of the liberation forces, and consistently and persistently participated in the liberation struggle.
Contacted for comment on the stage of implementation of this policy, Esther Paulus, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Social Services was out of office at the time of going to press.
The time frame allowed for the delivery of the consultancy services will be 180 working days.
• Additional reporting by the Ministry of Health and Social Services.