Government Launches Healthy Ageing Strategy

THE Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) in partnership with the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (MoLSW) and partners, has launched the National  Healthy Ageing strategic document which will focus on addressing health needs of the elderly populace in Zimbabwe.

By Michael Gwarisa

In an interview on the sidelines of the World Health Day celebrations at the World Health Organisation (WHO) Headquarters in Harare, Director Preventive services in the ministry of health and child care (MoHCC), Dr Gilbson Mhlanga said the new health strategy seeks to integrate health issues affecting the elderly into the national health strategy in line with the WHO recommendations of enhancing Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

“This is a strategy that wants to have a focus on the needs of the elderly because in terms of programming sometimes we program in a broad manner. At times we program just focusing on children, at times on women and times we focus on disease and we forget a key part of our population  which is the elderly.

“The elderly as you would appreciate, develop a lot of health conditions and it may require them forking out some of their savings to be able to get treatment for instance. So the policy is just trying to say, what do we do as government ministries in terms of the elderly to ensure their health needs and social needs are taken care of within a very clear and strategic position not where people are just enunciating a policy here  and another one there,” said Dr Mhlanga.

He added that the strategic document will work as a guiding document for everyone including the MoHCC, partners, Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), United Nations agencies and everyone with a passion to help the elderly.

“The strategy was crafted with the full participation of the elderly so that we will be able to capture exact aspects that adhere to them because sometimes if you think for people, you may miss the point.

“We may not be able to specify all of the benefits but as from the health part, we have our policy that anyone who above the of 65 should be able to access health services at any level without paying any fee so there is that policy that we have put in place so the elderly people’s needs are met,” said Dr Mhlanga.

Meanwhile, National Age Network (NAN) Director Marck Chikanza said Zimbabwe was one of the few countries in the world to come up with such a strategy targeted at the elderly populace.
“This journey we are beginning, will impact  generations to come. By supporting it, everyone here today,the government of Zimbabwe, Civil Society the selfless old men and women who worked tirelessly campaigning for change and recognition shall be known as pioneers of a health inclusive society.
“The population of people aged 60 and above in Zimbabwe is a little under 1 million and this is growing everyday owing to improvements in healthcare. This is a significant proportion of a country with a population of 13 million. Older people are a special group not only because of their growing numbers but also because of the nexus between age and poor health,”said Chikanza.
Chikanza added that the National Healthy Ageing Strategy is a culmination of a pilot study which was carried out in four African countries including Zimbabwe, known as Better Health For Older Persons in Africa (BHOPA) project.
The initiative was made possible through funding from DFID, and Age International as well as technical support from HelpAge International and MoHCC.










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