Older persons’ rights must be respected amidst COVID-19 pandemic

gnlm opinion

COVID-19 is extremely dangerous for older persons and others who have chronic diseases. We begin this Decade of Healthy Ageing as COVID-19 continues to cause disproportionate morbidity and mortality among older people across the world and in our Region.
Globally, the case fatality rate is around 3.5% for all ages but is around 12% for those aged 65 and older. In addition to the risk provided by the virus itself, older people have in recent months experienced challenges in accessing the health care they rely on to stay healthy and well, according to the World Health Organization. Society has a duty to exercise solidarity and better protect older persons who are bearing the lion’s share of the COVID-19 pandemic, a UN human rights expert said.
Our Myanmar society has a long history of honoring and respecting older persons. Traditionally, three generations, father-son-grandson (mother-daughter-granddaughter), live and care for each other. But due to the changing social and economic situation, the tradition of grandparents, parents and children living and caring for each other is decreasing and disappearing. The traditional way of caring for older persons is no longer covering all older persons. In addition to the family caring for older persons, other community-based elderly care and day care of older persons need to be widely practised.
The COVID-19 pandemic broke out at a time while we were scaling up our efforts for caring our older persons with a social pension program, a financial support system, starting from fiscal year 2017-2018 as they are facing insufficient income and health care problems. Health care for older persons is not only normal and traditional health care but also long-term care Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to recognize older persons’ rights enacted in the Older Persons Law, we must ensure that essential support services for communities do not put older persons and their care providers at risk.
Besides, when a safe and effective vaccine is developed, older people and high-risk groups such as workers in health-care and other social care settings must be provided first access Relevant ministries, communities and generations must come together to get through this crisis in solidarity.

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