Aging with a Smile Initiative takes New Turn
Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES)The widely held believe in The Gambia that getting old is a disadvantage and a misery as people at their dotage are ignored; living with little or no care, being left alone will soon be a thing of the past, if information gathered from the Organisation, Aging with a Smile Initiative (ASI) is any thing to go by.
At a Press Briefing held at National Malaria Control Programme Conference Hall in Kanifing, on 5th January 2010, the Secretary General of ASI, Mr. Ousman Badgie told journalists that they have arrived at the point to speak-out that the elderly in our communities will be given first-class attention and to help them cope with the state of affairs of the present generation.
Badjie lamented that changes in today’s life fashion has contributed a lot in making life difficult for the elderly, citing that the growing economic problems as the main factor. “Changes in our live style have necessitated by a number of factors that includes the growing economic problems and is forcing individuals and families to be concerned about their own advancement that caring for and supporting the elders and others in the society is missing,” he told journalists on Tuesday.
He stressed that in customary Gambian society, elderly people have been satisfactorily cared for by family members, friends and the wider neighborhood but nowadays it seems to be unlike from the past as the future generation cares for their own self attention.
This initiative , Badgie disclosed will be based on serving the elderly at their homes with concerted efforts of the family members, while the funding will come from the private sector in The Gambia as part of their social duty towards the elderly.
He revealed that the initiative is piloted in the Greater Banjul Area with a number of 50 to100 elderly people, but he was quick to add that in the near future, it will be decentralized country wide.
Dilating on some of their objectives, Badgie said that improving access to basic health care services to the disadvantaged elderly; promote the re-integration of the elderly in The Gambian social life; promote inter-generational dialogue; and advocating for the rights of the elderly, are the center of focus.
He said that ASI is a new and innovative drive in The Gambia aimed at helping and improving the lives of the ageing people in the country with a supportive changed way which will allow them to live more decorous and fulfilling lives.
“In our key intervention areas, we will provide health checkups for the elderly at homes covering blood pressure, blood sugar, eye care, hearing difficulties, dental services, health and nutrition, muscular-skeleton problems etc.
In addition, provisions of services like portable drinking water supply, laundry, appropriate clothing among other things will be made available for the old.
According to him, the initiative will also revive some positive traditional roles of the elderly in Gambia’s social life such as story telling, riddles, jokes and knitting noting provision of opportunities for the ageing to meet with their mates or peers so as to interact in which it will make life enjoyable for them as they will remember their past while discussing on current issues of the society.
Badgie stated that the initiative will also conduct trainings and sensitizations sessions for the family members of elderly people on how to support them adding that they need great care, love and peace in order to enjoy their daily lives.
“The component and package of their intervention is to advocate for the provision of essential services for the elderly by the government, non-governmental organizations, private sector and individuals and conducting research work on the situation for the ageing in the country,” he outlined.
Mr. Balamusa Joof, co-coordinator of ASI informed journalists that the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has fully associated itself with the initiative, citing that as part of their pilot project, a study will be conducted in collaboration with the University of The Gambia (UTG), the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Gambia Bureau of Static (GBoS) and that the figures will be shared with the public for digestion.
According to Joof, “some of the elderly are just like prisoners in their homes which make life terrible for them and this should not be the case as most of them are the founders of compounds they are imprisoned due to their age. He said: “Now the alarm bell has ring for a change, they will be free and live in a happy life as far as ASI is concern, we will support them to the maximum in their every day life to make it easy for them.”
As he puts it, “nowadays only a small group of the family members actually knows the problems of the elderly as everyone is busy for his/ her own day to day affairs.”
He further called for support from the public for what he called ‘the crusade’, adding that the elderly need great care for them to meet their health conditions and to re-unite with the present generation. VOL:2 ISSN:4