Health is the most important priority when it comes to the needs of the elderly. In developing countries, elderly citizens are vulnerable and access to proper healthcare is integral to their well-being.
In Tanzania, there has been a rapid increase in people over 60 years. The UN Demographic estimate forecasts this number to triple between 2020 and 2050. The population of elderly people is increasing due to improved social services and living standards.
Statistics show that approximately 81% of elderly people live in the rural parts of Tanzania. Therefore, it is important for the government to improve health services in rural areas, especially public hospitals, in order to reduce their vulnerability.
Yusuph Juma (68) says “I have been faced with different problems in public hospitals. Most nurses treat us harshly with unfriendly language, things that affect us very much. Sometimes they claim that there is no medicine and direct us to private hospitals to buy with our own money.” Meanwhile, he continued to say that he is surprised to hear that there is no medicine or treatment of their illnesses while the government provides free medicine for elders to receive treatment.
Where has the medicine gone?
Mwanahamisi Ally, a farmer and teacher who has been retired for a number of years, calls on the government to help them gain access to free and quality health services. He believes that the government should provide strict laws and punishment for those workers who treat the elderly population poorly. He continued to say that accountability is needed in the workplace so that everyone should work responsibly without violating the rights of other people.
According to a medical practitioner, who has chosen to remain anonymous for security reasons, says that “there are some rumours that due to lack of accountability, transparency and strict follow up in the workplace, some nurses and doctors have been accused of taking medicine to their pharmacy and when patients need them, they tell them to go and buy it.”
The UN General Secretary, on International World Day in 2008, made a call for the convention to protect the rights of aged persons. He said, “persons as they age should enjoy a life of fulfillment, health, security and active participation in the economy, social, cultural, and political life of their societies.” The convention is determined to enhance the recognition of dignity for elderly people and to eliminate all forms of drug abuse and violence against the vulnerable group.
Tanzania’s Legal and Human Rights Centre 2012 Report indicates that in regards to the situation of aged persons, states that there is “poor health services in hospitals and no medicine in government hospitals. Furthermore, there is a use of unfriendly language to elderly persons when they go in for treatment for urgent medical needs. Personnel in Kigoma were reported to utter things of a high level of disrespect and a lack of professional ethics.”
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family including food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services. Also, the right to suavity in the event of unemployment, sickness, old age or any other lack of a livelihood with circumstances beyond their control.
Magdalena’s goal is to focus her career in journalism to fight for the rights of grassroots initiatives and serve the community for national development.