Senior citizens call for policy to address welfare

Thursday September 13 2018

Senior citizens

Senior citizens at a home for the elderly in Rwanda. PHOTO | FILE 

By ARAFAT MUGABO
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Elderly persons have appealed for a national policy that will address their welfare, saying many of them are abandoned in homes as their children move to cities in search for jobs.

Speaking to Rwanda Today, representatives of elderly persons said the policy is needed to help them access to subsidised housing, goods and services, healthcare and inclusion in all other sectors of the economy.

This comes at a time when the quality of life in Rwanda is improving steadily with more people living longer due to improved standards of living.

According to the latest World Health Organisation 2018 data, life expectancy in Rwanda is at 66.1 for male while female stands at 69.9 as the total life expectancy stands at 68. This gives Rwanda a world life expectancy ranking of 129.

The country currently has about 500,000 people above the age of 60, comprising of five per cent of the total population.

This number is expected to increase as life expectancy grow due to improved living standards in the country.

According to Elie Mugabowishema, founder and executive director of Nsindagiza, a non- governmental organisation for elderly, government is reluctant to develop the policy.

“We have had countless discussions with Ministry of Local Government convincing and reviewing the importance the policy will have for elders and country, but it’s as if they don’t have interest in it,” said Mr Mugabowishema, adding that they have been engaging since 2013.

However, government maintains that while it is willing to develop the policy, the current social protection programmes cater for the elderly.