The Coalition of Societies for Rights of Older Persons In Nigeria (COSROPIN), says the death of former Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari has re-enforced its appeal to government on social security for Older Persons.
Sen. Eze Ajoku, the President of the Coalition told Newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja that care and protection of older persons during and after this pandemic was imperative.
Ajoku stressed the need for older persons to step up their compliance with safety measures as wearing masks and social distancing aimed at stopping further community transmission.
“We strongly call on all older persons, no matter their status and positions to avoid being infected with this virus. Older persons must, we repeat, must protect themselves from being infected by this virus.
“They must follow the only known remedy for avoiding this virus. That is to stay at home, wash their hands regularly or use hand sanitizers, avoid handshakes, hugging, and congregating with others without face mask and maintaining social distancing.
According to him, with weak immunity due to underlying sicknesses such as diabetics, high blood pressures, liver, kidney, coronary heart problems, and other illnesses such as asthma, it will be difficult for them to survive COVID-19.
“We have repeatedly warned the older persons to note that if the same rain that beats the lizard beats the rat, the rat will not survive; there is need for all to wear face mask. With a mask you protect me and I protect you,” he said.
Ajoku appealed to caregivers of older persons and their families to insulate them from this infection by ensuring they followed the laid down protective policies.
“We believe that the late Chief of Staff would have survived like others if not for underlining health issues he has an older person, especially with the level of care he received.
“Older persons are a blessing to their families, communities and this nation, they should not play with their lives at this time because the risk is not worth it.
“COSROPIN therefore called on government at all levels to ensure guaranteed healthcare and social security for older persons to cushion the effect of the pandemic.
“What we hear is government promises or mere words but no action towards the welfare of older persons.
“Palliatives and improved medical services to manage underlying health challenges are needed at this time for older persons.
“Government should provide maintenance drugs and also drugs that are used frequently for old age ailments at an affordable price that is highly subsidised price.
“COSROPIN reiterates the need for food and medication for older persons to meet up the urgency of this time and adequate funding,’’ he said.
He advocated grassroots public enlightenment and education on COVID-19 using already existing structures like National Orientation Agency (NOA) in the 774 local governments, media houses and other stakeholders.
Ajoku described the dissemination of information to the grassroots as key and expedient, adequately funded to ensure proper engagement of the citizens, especially older persons, “who are largely illiterate’’.
“The coalition has done COVID-19 jingles in Hausa Ibo, Yoruba and pidgin, which it circulated within social media.
“The coalition notes that it is not enough to lockdown; people need to know and own the lockdown.
“When they fully understand the reason for the lockdown and the full import of being out on the street during lockdown, then government will have less resistance from the populace,” he said.
Ajoku called for inclusion of older persons in the unconditional cash transfer scheme and urged government not to leave any person behind in their distribution of palliatives.
He commended the Federal Government for increasing the number of people eligible for social protection, urging it to be older persons-friendly, since almost the leadership class were in that category.
Ajoku called for a partnership with the National Social Investment Office (NSIO) and stakeholders to ensure transparency and inclusion of every interest group in all proposals and schemes.
The coalition leader urged Nigerians to live in the hope that COVID-19 would be defeated soon.