Senior citizens in dire straits, finds survey

Kathmandu, May 3:

A survey covering 203 senior citizens of Dolakha, Kathmandu, Rasuwa and Chitwan has presented a pitiable plight of senior citizens.

Findings of the survey conducted by Dr Mahendra K Chhetri, chairman of the Colony Polyclinic and Research Centre (CPRC), were presented at a workshop on ‘Advocacy of Old Age Care, Existing Laws and Policies’, held by the Management Division, Department of Health

Services (DoHS), CPRC, National Senior Citizens’ Organisation Network and the World Health Organisation.

Speakers at the workshop said the new constitution must protect the rights of senior citizens.

Most of the surveyed senior citizens were found to be suffering from diseases like arthritis and eye ailments.

According to the survey, there are 1.48 million senior citizens in the country, but only 15 agencies, including the government-run Pashupati Briddhashram, to look after them. These organisations are looking after 1,420 senior citizens.

Though an act was promulgated in 2006 to ensure social security of senior citizens, the same has not been implemented. The 10th five-year plan had outlined the need to establish geriatric wards in governmental hospitals, plans like these have not been executed. The government provides a monthly stipend of Rs 200 to each senior citizen aged above 75 years, which is a paltry sum by any standard.

Poet laureate Madhav Prasad Ghimire, 90, said senior citizens can breathe their last happily if they are cared for. He said proper care of senior citizens should begin at home, calling on the government to come up with policies to cater to the need of destitute senior citizens.

The government is in the process of drafting regulations for the welfare of

senior citizens, said Upendra Adhikari, undersecretary at the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare. To materialise the plan of establishing geriatric units in hospitals, the government is planning to provide training, which will help produce geriatric experts and counsellors, he said.