NATIONAL AGEING POLICY ‘AGEING WITH SECURITY AND DIGNITY’
July 17, 2010 1:36 pm
One of the major concerns of older persons in Ghana is the absence of a comprehensive, coherent and well articulated policy document on ageing. There is unprecedented increase in the number of older persons globally, continentally and nationally. In fact available statistics show similar trends in all regions and districts of Ghana.
Population of older persons (60 years and above) is projected to increase from about 600 million in 2000 to almost 2.6 billion in 2050. This increase is phenomenal and yet developing countries are expected to experience even more rapid increases reaching about four times within the same period. Africa will not be spared from this rapid population growth of older persons. In Sub-Saharan Africa, where the struggle with HIV/AIDS pandemic and economic and social hardship continues, the percentage is expected to reach half the level. The 2000 Population and Housing Census Report on Ghana indicate that the proportion of the elderly (65 years and above) formed 5.3 per cent of the population, an increase from 4 per cent in 1984.
This dramatic demographic change in the population of older persons is occurring in the context of globalization and socio-economic challenges, deterioration of cultural values and morals, spreading of HIV/AIDS pandemic and other diseases. This definitely calls for effective and carefully thought out policy interventions to take advantage of the several opportunities that come with it and reduce its negative impact on the development of our country.
Today’s generation owe it as a duty to honour and guarantee better living conditions for our older persons. We need to recognize that the society in which we live today has been built thanks to the efforts and toil of previous generations some of whom live with us and defined as older persons. We must make the effort to provide them with efficient health care services and conducive living environment to ensure that they age actively and with adequate security and recognizable dignity.
As a society we have not been able to meet these challenges adequately and satisfactorily. This unsatisfactory performance is partly due to the unsatisfactory treatment we give to older persons because of our own negative perceptions about them including the strange images we use to describe or ascribe to them. Unpardonably, we have sometimes failed to meet their needs even when we have had the capacity to exactly do that.
In 2003, a national policy on ageing was prepared and submitted to Cabinet for approval. The policy sought to address a number of ageing issues at the time but the policy as a comprehensive document was not implemented. The review of the policy is therefore timely if viewed from the perspective of Government’s implementation arrangements for the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy and the commitment of the Government of Ghana to the Declarations of the Second World Assembly on Ageing and Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. The process for the review is itself commendable as it brought together key stakeholders including older persons themselves, government institutions and policymakers, social partners, private sector, civil society and development partners from national and district levels including representatives of communities. The process adopted for the review was bottom-up, participatory and consultative. It is also consistent with the guidelines recommended by the United Nations for member countries within the framework of the Madrid International Plan of Action.
This policy presents a framework that is capable of transforming and improving the lives of older persons in our society. Our shared vision as Ghanaians is to achieve the overall social, economic and cultural re-integration of older persons into mainstream society, and to enable them as far as practicable to participate fully in the national development process. It is therefore my hope that the partnership that has led to the development of this policy will continue to be strengthened and deployed in the development of the Action Plan, programmes and projects not only to ensure successful implementation of the policy but also to ensure that the quality of life of older persons in Ghana improves significantly and that the goal of ageing actively with adequate security and dignity is achieved.
The Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare acknowledges and appreciates the enormous contribution of the UNFPA and other development partners in supporting the policy development process. The Ministry is also grateful to all stakeholder organizations and individuals especially our senior citizens whose valuable inputs and contributions have enriched the policy.