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Last week a report on the ageing people ranked Nepal 77th among 91 countries, indicating it as one of the worst places to grow old.

The Global Age Watch Index, the first of its kind, which claimed to have covered 89 percent of the population above 60 years of age worldwide, showed that Nepal is yet to improve its services in health care in order to create a suitable environment for old people.

The survey, conducted by HelpAge International, an INGO, and supported by the United Nations Population Fund, puts Sweden as the best place for ageing people followed by Norway, Germany, Netherlands and Canada. The United States of America got eighth position while India holds 73rd rank.

Afghanistan, the survey shows, is the worst place for older people. The survey looked into 13 indicators in the four domains: income security, health status, employment and education, and enabling environment. Among the indicators, pension income coverage, poverty rate in old age, relative welfare of older people and GDP per capita are looked into income security while life expectancy at 60, healthy life expectancy at 60 and psychological wellbeing are under health status. Similarly, employment of older people and their education status are looked into while social connections, physical safety, civic freedom and access to public transport were kept in mind under the enabling environment.

We can break down these numbers and view them in terms of programmes aimed at the elderly population. In terms of government services, the retirement age in Nepal differs from profession to profession—58 years for civil service holders, 60 for teachers, maximum of 65 for judges, among others. Then they are eligible for pension.

For those who are not pensioners, they are eligible for state allowances. The government provides Rs 500 per month for people who are above 70 years while the age bar is 60 for old people in Karnali and the Dalits.

“Studies on old age and the security system carried out so far show that living standards often decline for people at old age. Reduced economic opportunities and deteriorating health status frequently increase their risk of vulnerability to poverty as people age,” a 2012 report on Assessment of Social Security Allowance Programme in Nepal reads. “The absence of resources or income sources increases the risk of individuals, households and communities falling below the poverty line due to insufficient consumption and access to basic services. For those who are already below the poverty line, the absence of an income source increases the risk to remain in or to fall further into poverty.”

However, this scheme has been frequently criticised for lacking transparency in the fund distribution. “The allowances have been a great relief to the people. But how many of them are benefiting remains largely unknown,” said Krishna Murari Gautam, chairman of Ageing Nepal, an NGO working for the rights of old people.

Gautam said 21 cases of hurdles in allowance distribution were reported in 2012, which is just a tip of the iceberg. Among the reports, many dealt with the VDC secretary forging signatures of the elderly to pocket their allowances.

This programme was introduced in 1995 as a political agenda to buy votes. This was widely popular and was hence continued. The sum of money has also increased from Rs 100 to Rs 500 over the years. The scheme was widely misused during the insurgency period when the VDC secretaries, who are responsible for the allowance distribution, were never present in the localities.

“Despite problems in implementation, our social security scheme of providing old age allowances has been received well by the international community as it is universal for people above age 70,” said Sangita Niroula, country director of HelpAge International Nepal.

In terms of health care, the government has recently initiated geriatric care centres at the hospitals. This, however, is yet to be effective. Surya Prasad Shrestha, under-secretary at the Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare, accepted that these centres have not been much effective.

“But the initiation is for a noble cause and we are also new in the area,” said Shrestha. He said that they have been slowly piloting the establishment of day care centres and studying land right issues.

According to the National Population and Housing Census (2011), there are 2,154,410 senior citizens who are above 60 in the country. They make eight percent of the population.

 Source:  The Kathmandu Post (Nepal) October 8th, 2013

Compiled by : Manisha Shrestha

 

 

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MINISHA KHATRI DHUNGANA
In this 21st century money, technology and beautification products have contributed actively in reversing our ageing process. Advertisement campaigns and beautification products mostly target women as their main audience. Maybe women are easily influenced by marketing gimmicks than men? Or they are trying to reinforce the patriarchal believes that dictates `women always to remain fair, young and beautiful’ than their better halves. Even when a male is dark as a night he expects a snow white lady as his bride. Maybe this competition has motivated women to at least try to be fair on face value, exposing their natural skin colour around the neck, legs or arms. Many women globally, spend resources, time and energy on smoothing away the wrinkles, readjusting the body fats and enlarging lips and the list goes on. Whenever I see advertisements that claim surgical interventions to enhancing beauty, and curing all maladies faced by women, I get disheartened. I see many women falling into this marketing trap. Many have ruined their health and have become poorer by not believing in themselves.In the competition to remain young forever, our better halves are also not too far behind. Although, I must say, that our counterparts have a balanced outlook by limiting themselves to building six packs, some are into enhancing their fairness through creams and attract lady love by spraying loads of perfume. Learning to age gracefully is an art that commands acceptance of circle of life but unfortunately many of us try to sabotage this part of our life by remaining competitively yours in the quest for eternal beauty. Nonetheless, there are many who do not dye their hair when the greying starts but love to have it silver white and look elegant.

Personally speaking, I cannot wait to be old, because it brings wisdom and experiences that no beauty products can buy. For some of us, we are blessed with good genes, healthy diet, complimented with vegetables, fruits and lots of water. If we understand the mantra of eat, sleep, walk, and pray (optional), we will remain young forever and do not need any anti-wrinkle creams nor surgical procedures to cover the age lines.

By sharing my opinion I would commend all women and men who have embraced ageing gracefully and living a dignified life despite the health problems that often accompany old age. I respect their decision to enjoy the benefits of retired life with dignity. I will always cherish our elders’ contribution in shaping our lives with their unconditional love, dedication, and commitment. Now it is time that we respect their rights and privileges to ease their burdens of old age.

Source: Himalayan News Service, November 27, 2012

NEPAL adopted the Yogyakarta Declaration on Ageing and Health, on Tuesday, pledging to improve the national response to the health of ageing and aged populations. Health Minister Rajendra Mahato and Secretary Dr Prabin Mishra, representing Nepal, agreed to the declaration, along with 10 other World Health Organization (WHO) member states from South-East Asia, in a regional meeting being organised from September 4-7 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The meet is being attended by WHO Director General Dr Margaret Chan, Regional Director for South-East Asia Dr Samlee Plianbangchang and health ministers of the WHO member states, according to a WHO press statement. The declaration underscores concern that the economic effects of ageing will impact health care and social support systems and require the attention of policy and decision makers, NGOs and the private sector, said the statement. Health Ministers from the region committed to a coherent, comprehensive and integrated approach to formulate, promote, develop and strengthen multi-sector national alliances for promoting healthy ageing and ensuring sufficient resources for programmes dealing with ageing and health, taking into consideration the economic aspects of long-term care for the aged, both at the facility and household levels.

Source: Kathmandu Post News Service, September 7, 2012

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