Government Spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, has Tuesday revealed that Cabinet on approved the principles for the proposed Older Persons’ Bill 2019.
The decision is in line with the fulfillment of Article 32 of the Constitution which states that: “Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, the State will take affirmative action in favour of groups marginalised on the basis of gender, age, disability or any other reason created by history, tradition or custom, for the purpose of redressing imbalances which exist against
Older persons are defined by the United Nations (UN) as those aged 60 years and above.
According to the 1991 Uganda Population and Housing Census, the population of older persons was 686,260 (4.1%) of the total population of 16,671,705. This population increased to 1,101,039 (4.6%) as per the Uganda Population and Housing Census results of 2002.
In 2016, Uganda Bureau of Statistics indicated that older persons constitute 3.7% of the entire population of 34.6 million people.
In a report by Ajiambo Milly, Senior Gerontologist, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, majority of older persons live in rural areas where poverty is rife with limited economic opportunities.
The same report indicated that about 85% of the active older persons are engaged in crop farming with no social security, which renders them totally vulnerable.
Their economic situation is worsened by the burden of looking after orphans and other vulnerable children left by the youths who succumbed to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Government says the approved the Bill intends to enhance protection and realization of older person’s rights, promote and protect their wellbeing, safety as well as combating their abuse.
They immensely suffer from elderly related diseases like hypertension, stroke, diabetes, heart diseases and blindness yet many can’t access basic health services.
Due to their vulnerability, scores of them are sexual assaulted, but in the approved principles, government seeks to provide for a rights based approach to social protection programming of older persons and streamline care services for older persons.
A structure through which free and fair elections of representatives of Older Persons Councils can be conducted at all levels is to be established.
The policy also seeks to amend and harmonise existing inconsistent or inadequate provisions in the current Law.