The society is responsible for its senior citizens
The world is eyeing more people aged over 60 by 2020 that those under age 5 years or less. In 2017, there was an estimated 962 million people aged 60 or over in the world, comprising 13 per cent of the global population.
Declining fertility and increasing life expectancy is pushing up the population aged 60 or above at a rate of about 3 per cent per year. Projections place the amount to 1.4 billion in 2030 and 2.1 billion in 2050, and could rise to 3.1 billion in 2100.
Globally, population aged 60 or over is growing faster than all younger age groups and in the coming decades many countries are likely to face fiscal and political pressures in relation to public systems of health care, pensions and social protections for a growing older population.
Bangladesh is no different. It is one of the twenty developing countries with largest number of older people.
However, speakers at a discussion on “Strengthening Bonding among Generations”, organised by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) with support from United Nation’s Development Programme (UNDP) feel that there is enormous potential in the demographic change.
“Older persons are increasingly seen as contributors to development, whose abilities to act for the betterment of themselves and their societies should be woven into policies and programmes at all levels,” said UNDP Country Director Sudipto Mukerjee at the event held on 17 October 2018 at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel in Dhaka.
Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation(PKSF) chairman Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad was present as chief guest while NHRC chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque chaired the seminar.
“The elderly people are not burden on families. The family members are the best caregivers for the elderly people. There is special allowance for under-social safety net programme. The society has responsibilities for senior citizens,” Kholiquzzaman said.
In the welcome address, Kazi Reazul said the government has been covered more than 4 millions of senior citizens under social safety net programme.
“A senior member of a family plays a role as an umbrella. All of us should develop respectful attitude towards them. For the senior citizens, the state should provide special facilities in different sector,” he added.
Noted litterateur and Chairman of Bangladesh Shishu Academy Selina Hossain urged family members to ensure presence of relatives around the elderly members so they have a an active and sound last phase of life.
PKSF Managing Director Abdul Karim lauded the NHRC activities for social safety of the elderly people. “Our rights commission has been working for any humanitarian crisis across the country. We found our senior citizens are suffering from different problems. Family members should take care of them rather than shifting to old homes. From the PKSF, we are trying to introduce special financial programme for them.”
Karim also recommended introducing a universal pension scheme for the elderly people so they can maintain a minimum standard of life without being dependent on others.
Probin Hitoishi Sangha secretary general Prof Atiqur Rahman said now there are 1.4 crore people of old ages, which is about eight percent of the country’s total population. “But, this number will increase to 4.5 crore by 2040 and 5 crore by 2050.”
He also urged the private sector to come forward and contribute to safety net activities as the government resources are limited.
In the premise, NHRC has recently formed a Thematic Committee on Elderly People’s Rights and the Committee would like to convene a discussion with the relevant stakeholders to discuss the issues and challenges of older person in Bangladesh.
Among others, UNFPA Country Director Asa Britta Torkelsson, Major General Jiban Kanai Das (Retd) CEO, Channel 24 and Rabeya Sultana, Country Director, Help Age International spoke on the occasion.