Prof. Michael Adikwu, Vice Chancellor, University of Abuja, has called on the Federal Government to implement health policies that would support and increase life expectancy of the aged in the country.
Adikwu made the call at an international training programme in Gerontology and Geriatrics on Monday in Abuja.
The programme was organised by the Dave Omokaro Africa Institute on Ageing and Development (DOFRIAD), University of Abuja.
According to him, government healthcare intervention for the aged will reduce poverty, dependency on the family of the older persons and allay their fears on health challenges and the attendant financial involvement.
“The idea is to develop and sustain capacity, promote community participation in health ageing and stimulate critical thinking to tackle inherent challenges in population ageing.
“These objectives are to be achieved through research, training, workshops, conferences, public lectures and advocacy to influence policies on the challenges of ageing.
“As countries move through the demographic transition from high fertility and high mortality to low fertility and low mortality equilibrium, the size of the working age population mechanically increases.
“Supporting these changes through multi-sectoral action and multidisciplinary approach to addressing our ageing population will enhance the pursuit of the sustainable development goals and the Health Ageing 2020-2030,” he said.
The vice chancellor also called for the creation of sustainable data to monitor and evaluate the impact of health policies in the country.
He explained that the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) data published in 2018 on life expectancy in Nigeria showed that males had 54.7 and females 55.7, with Nigeria having a world life expectancy ranking of 178.
“Thus like other countries of the world, most people are living longer and a significant proportion of the population are older people.
“This demographic change has strong implications for sustainable development, as people grow older, their health outcome, needs and what they value change,” he said.
Also speaking, Mrs Funmi Togonu-Bickersteth of the Department of Psychology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, called on government to grant free or subsidised healthcare for the aged in the society.
According to her, older people need a special health insurance which should either be free or heavily subsidised.
“That way, we can all go into old age, knowing that we will not spend whatever we have saved on maintaining our health.”
She urged government and stakeholders to engage in massive public enlightenment on geriatrics as well as the lifestyle and aging culture in order to reduce cases of sexual and physical abuse of aged persons.