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Mashonaland East Province Hosts International Day of Older Persons

By Faith Chimutsa

Zimbabwe joins the global community in observing the International Day of Older Persons and reaffirming its commitment to upholding the rights and welfare of older citizens.

This year marked the 33rd commemoration of the day, which aims to increase awareness of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for Older Persons and promote intergenerational partnerships for their protection.

The International Day of Older Persons, designated by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1990, recognizes the invaluable contributions of older persons and their entitlement to human rights and fundamental freedoms. The theme for this year’s commemoration in Zimbabwe is “Fulfilling the Promises of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for Older Persons: Across Generations.”

Speaking at the event in Mashonaland East, the deputy Minister for Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Mercy Marova Dinha highlighted the government’s commitment to supporting older persons and ensuring their dignity and wellbeing. The enactment of the Older Persons Act (Chapter 17:11) and the establishment of the Older Persons Board serve as evidence of the government’s dedication to protecting the rights of older citizens.

Addressing the challenges faced by older persons within Zimbabwean society, the deputy Minister emphasized the need to combat ageism, protect older citizens from abuse, and provide comprehensive support. Issues such as false accusations of witchcraft, financial exploitation, inadequate care facilities, and the burden of caring for grandchildren were identified as key areas requiring attention

.”Our Older persons leaving in residential care institutions also face challenges of dilapidated infrastructure, lack of critical medicines, social exclusion and appropriety care facilities for those that require palliative care.

“A lot of work must be done by the Government and Older Persons’ Board to ensure that Older Persons enjoy their welfare and are protected from abuse by some rogue elements of society. The Older Persons are a section of our aging population who have rights and privileges granted under the Constitution”,said Dinha.

To address these challenges, the deputy Ministry for Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare is implementing several social protection programs. These programs include per capita grants for older persons in residential care facilities, administrative grants to residential care institutions, monthly maintenance allowances, and the Harmonized Social Cash Transfer. The government is also exploring the feasibility of establishing a universal non-contributory Old Age pension and medical aid for all citizens.

The Ministry, in collaboration with stakeholders and with support from the World Health Organization (WHO), is in the final stages of formulating the Older Persons’ Policy. Once completed, this policy will operationalize the Older Persons Act, further strengthening the legal framework for the protection and support of older persons.

“My Ministry working with stakeholders exploring the feasibility of establishing a universal non-contributal Old Age pension and a non-contributal medical aid. for all citizens. These are noble initiatives worth pursuing. Let us propose the funding modalities so that we can take that up for consideration,” she added.

The deputy Minister called on all sectors of society to play their part in ensuring the wellbeing of older persons. Corporate organizations, private voluntary organizations, and individuals were commended for their continued support and assistance to older persons, and the government pledged to create an enabling environment for these initiatives.

As Zimbabwe commemorates the International Day of Older Persons, the deputy Minister urged everyone to take action and make a positive difference in the lives of older citizens throughout October and beyond. It is essential to recognize and appreciate the significant contributions and wisdom of older persons, who deserve respect, care, love, and protection.