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Zubiri urges government to institute long-term care for senior citizens

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UNA senatorial candidate Migz Zubiri today calls on the government to take an active role in alleviating the plight of the country’s growing number of senior citizens, most especially those who are unwanted at home and deserted by relatives through more institutionalized and long-term old-age care programs and services.

“While RA 9257 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2003 provides for the expansion of coverage of benefits and privileges that the elderly may avail of, including medically necessary services, the State must still establish an institutionalized long-term care program to our growing senior citizens to enable them to lead dignified, healthy and secure lives”, Zubiri said.

“After their productive years of working hard to support young members of their family, it’s time to repay them. Whether they are our relatives or not, let us care for them. Dakilain natin sila, huwag nating pabayaan.”

According to the Department of Health (DOH), the proportion of older persons is expected to rise worldwide. In the 1998 World Health Organization Report (WHO), there were 390 million older people and this figure is expected to increase further. In the Philippines, the population of 60 years or older was 3.7 million in 1995 or 5.4percent of the total population. In the 2000 census, this has increased to about 4.8 million or almost 6 percent according to the National Statistics and Coordination Board (NSCB). At present there are 7 million senior citizens, of which 1.3 million are indigents.

“Numerous dependent senior citizens who are either sickly, frail, suffering from disabilities such as diabetes and hypertensions have no other means of support. They have little cash to buy badly needed medicines or pay for services of therapists or caregivers. Matagal silang nag-akay sa atin nuong bata pa tayo, sila naman ang ating akayin ngayon”

“Apart from not having enough money for their medical needs, many suffer emotional anxiety - - especially those who have been abandoned and neglected by the very people they love and used to care for when they were stronger and productive”, Zubiri said.

“As a testament of our love and care for them the government must institute a national health program and provide an integrated health and social services for senior citizens,” Zubiri stressed.

“There are a lot of investments called for in order to provide for our elderly and support should be given to local government units to enhance their capacity to implement old-age programs efficiently. The programs should be implemented immediately in areas with high incidence of poverty as follows: Zamboanga del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Eastern Samar, Maguindanao, Zamboanga Sibugay, Romblon, Masbate, Davao Oriental, Northern Samar, Bohol, Saranggani, Sulu, Lanao del Norte, and Camarines Sur, according to the latest NSCB data.

Among others, Zubiri added that the provision under the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2003 of giving free vaccination against the influenza virus and pneumococcal diseases for indigent senior citizens must be implemented and institutionalized down to the remotest barangays.

He added that community-based health workers must also be trained to specialize in the geriatric care and health problems of senior citizens.

“An elderly person needs special attention to remain mentally and physically active to maintain agility and strength. Emotional and social care is also equally important in order to prevent them from depression. Integrated and innovative elderly-focused health and social services must therefore be available down to the remotest barangays with particular emphasis on disease prevention, health promotion and wellness of mind, body and spirit,” Zubiri stressed.




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