The government has several entities to oversee the welfare of specific sections of people in the society like women and children. But this is not same for 15 million people who are aged over 60, constituting 10.66 percent of total population.
Even though the Constitution mentions the basic necessities of the elderly people, they have always been neglected and deprived of their rights since there is no definite authority to ensure their welfare.
Speakers at a webinar demanded the immediate formation of a separate government entity in addition to strict enforcement of the laws and proper implementation of the policies to ensure social protection and rights to the older persons.
Foundation for Advancement of Innovations in Technology and Health, Bangladesh (faith Bangladesh) organised the online event on the occasion of the International Day for Older Persons.
Moderated by Executive Director of faith Bangladesh Nilufer Ahmed Karim, Agriculturalist and President of Bangladesh Senior Citizen Welfare Society (BSCWS) Mahmood Hussain, General Secretary of Elderly Welfare Association Shamim Faruque, Executive Member of Prabin Hitaishi Sangha Advocate Khaleda Khanam, and Executive Editor of English daily Bangladesh Post Shiabur Rahman Shihab spoke at the event.
Citing the 2013 Social Security Strategy Policy clarifies all privileges to senior citizens, Shamim Faruque called to introduce the senior citizen card initiative immediately to ensure the implementation of the policy.
“Two government hospitals have geriatric care unit but those are equipped with minimum facilities,” she mentioned.
Mahmood Hussain recommended integrating senior citizen card initiative to the national identity card in future.
“Last January health minister pledged to ensure free healthcare for older people but the government is yet to issue any order on the matter,” he said demanding establishment of separate division or ministry for senior citizens.
Khaleda Khanam urged the government to ensure elderly people’s privilege at public transport, reduce travel fare and set up separate units for them at each hospital.
Shiabur Rahman said, “According to UN, world’s older population will reach 2 billion by 2050.Providing care to older population is a global challenge.
People in Bangladeshlack awareness on the older persons’ care in addition to less infrastructural facilities, lack of fund, and social change.”
“We must start working and be vocal on their rights and more media engagement is essential to create a better future for the older persons,” he added.
Nilufer Karim echoed the demand saying a separate cell can be opened under social welfare ministry.
“We don’t want more old homes, let us work together to ensure their rights at homes,” she added.