Ghana makes strong case for oldies

The Government of Ghana has stated that it fully endorses efforts to develop appropriate legal frameworks and tools by the United Nations to effectively address gaps and challenges faced by older persons.

It says it supports the comprehensive approach and the leading role of the United Nations and the continuous effort by the international community towards a binding legal framework for the aged.

Nana Oye Lithur, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, made the statement at the ongoing 6th Session of the Open Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWGA) at the United Nations headquarters in New York, USA.

The Session will consider the existing international framework of the human rights and dignities of older persons, identify possible gaps and how to best address them, including considering as appropriate, the feasibility of further instruments and measures.

The 6th OEWGA is chaired by Mateo Estreme, Deputy Permanent Representative and Permanent Mission of Argentina to the UN.

 It is being attended by delegates from 52 member countries of the UN and civil society organizations (CSOs) from across the world.

Delivering Ghana’s statement at the session, Mrs Lithur proposed that specific international standards on older persons’ rights must ensure the Prohibition of all forms of discrimination against them.

Ghana she said proposes for the elimination of all barriers that prevent older persons from enjoying their rights on an equal basis with others and enhancing the legal capacity of older persons, including the provision of legal support to enable them exercise their rights on an equal basis with others.

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“We propose the elimination of all barriers to the right of personal mobility of older persons, including full access to affordable and safe transport on an equal basis with others, and mobility aids and devices,” she stated.

She also pushed for the aged the protection from all forms of violence and abuse, especially for older women, including from harmful traditional practices, torture in any form, expulsion from the home and any inhuman and degrading treatment and provision for the right to social security and social protection.

Outlining some gains made for aged people in Ghana so far, the Gender and Social Protection Minister said about 5,000 old people have been registered free of charge onto the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), while on the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), out of a total of 90,785 households on the LEAP programme, 46% are elderly.

In January, Mrs Lithur said Ghana launched the ‘Eban’ Elderly Welfare Card Programme, an initiative to provide priority access to social services in health, transportation and other services.

“The programme seeks to use social safety net to ensure the elderly live in dignity. Under the programme older persons receive 50 per cent discount on public transport fares to any destination in Ghana,” she said, adding that they also receive priority access to services at the hospitals, banks, transport terminals and other social services that older persons might require.

She said 25,000 elderly persons are expected to be rolled onto the program nationwide this year.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), she hinted has also been signed between Ghana and the Aahus Social Health Care College of Denmark to support the introduction and mainstreaming of geriatrics at the various health training schools in Ghana as well as health care delivery system.

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“A witch camp which had 70 per cent of its inmates being older women 70 years and above was recently closed down and the inmates reintegrated into society. This is an effort in dealing with abuse and discrimination against older persons and older women in particular,” she added.