By Princess-Ekwi Ajide, Abuja
August 14 (Newshour.com.ng) – World Health Organization, WHO, has expressed worries that the population aged 65 or above in sub-Saharan Africa, could grow from 32 million in 2019 to 101 million in 2050.
A situation, the organisation says despite sparse data on older persons, Nigeria is not spared from the alarming figures with about 14.8 million aged 60 years and above.
WHO’s country Representative, Dr Walter Mulombo, expressed these worries at the first National Summit on healthy ageing with the theme: “Decade of Healthy Ageing in Nigeria: Situation, Challenges and Transformative Pathway organised by the Federal Ministry of Health and Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development in Abuja.
Dr. Mulombo stressed that globally, there were 703 million persons aged 65 or over in 2019 but in the next three decades, the number of older persons worldwide is projected to more than double, reaching more than 1.5 billion persons in 2050.
He reiterated WHO’s commitment to supporting and actively participating in the partnership towards achieving the desired outcomes in line with the UN resolution for Decade of Healthy ageing.
According to him, since 2020, when the Decade of Healthy Ageing (2020-2030) was promoted, WHO alongside other UN experts, civil society and the health professions have continued to support government of Nigeria’s efforts to discuss the five strategic objectives of the Global Strategy and Action plan on Ageing and Health while noting the progress and challenges in their realization.
He said the strategy is at the Center of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as ageing issues cut across the 17 goals, especially Goal 3 which aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being of all at all ages”.
The Country Representative, called on the Federal Government to continue to exercise leadership and increased investment in human capital development to further strengthen partnership and prioritize the Decade of Healthy Ageing by focusing on improved engagement with older people; better understanding of older peoples’ needs; developing and strengthening health and long-term care, specifically in communities and improved multisectoral action in aligning with the PHC system approach.
He said several studies assessing the Nigeria health system including within the current global COVID-19 pandemic has further revealed a need to strengthen the health systems at all levels to be responsive to older people.