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Discussing Old People's Problems

By Brenda Yufeh, Cameroon Tribune


September 12, 2006

An international seminar on ageing is currently taking place in Yaounde.

Statistics from the United Nations reveal that the number of persons above 60 shall move from about 600 million to nearly two billion in 2025, representing nearly six per cent of the population of developing countries. Cameroon, with its 15.292.000 inhabitants, shall have 917.520 persons of 60 years and above. United Nations' further estimates put the number of persons above 60 years at four times the present value in the next fifty years in developing countries. Within this framework, the African Regional Office of the International NGO "Help Age International" (HAI), with support from the Ministry of Social Affairs, yesterday in Yaounde began discussions to envisage true social protection policies for the elderly given their vulnerability.

The Minister of Social Affairs, Catherine Bakang Mbock, who represented the Prime Minister, Head of Government at the opening ceremony, said the government of Cameroon, mindful of the situation of the elderly, created in the Ministry of Social Affairs, a department for the Social Protection of the disabled and the elderly, with a sub-department for the protection of the elderly. The new structure has the responsibility of elaborating a veritable policy for the protection of the elderly with the help of various partners. Reasons why Minister Catherine Bakang Mbock said the seminar, which is the first of its type to be organised in a francophone African country, will help mobilise the national and international community on issues of social welfare of the elderly in Cameroon.

The Help Age International director of Programmes for Africa, Alex Bush, said few people think about the problems faced at old age. He explained that as people grow older earning an income becomes difficult and they are usually poor. Elderly people face many different health problems and they are often excluded from their families and left to themselves. Through presentations and discussions in plenary, the workshop will establish a partnership framework for the state, civil society and the international community on the solving of problems related to ageing, sensitise the population on how to prepare for ageing, identify the main orientations that can constitute a sector based policy for the fight against HIV/AIDS on elderly persons, adopt mechanisms that enable the improvement of psychosocial, medical and financial care of the elderly, as well as facilitate their socioeconomic reintegration. The workshop is also a forum to identify strategies to review the 2002 Madrid Inter national Plan of action on ageing.

The seminar will also enable Cameroon to strengthen its protection and promotion policy as concerns the welfare of the elderly through exchange with other countries. The seminar brings together participants from 13 African countries and the United Kingdom.

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