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Old People’s Homes urge govt support for neglected senior citizens

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By Idah Mhetu

CASH-STRAPPED Old People’s homes in Zimbabwe have appealed to government for more grants and easier access to medication for use by the elderly occupants.

Speaking during a recent breakfast meeting with Public Service Minister Paul Mavima in Harare, Emilia Mukaratirwa from Bako Redonhodzo Old People’s home in the capital city’s old suburb of Highfields, said they were failing to access medication for ailments such as Blood Pressure (BP), Dementia and Sugar Diabetes, as the health preserving products have become unaffordable to many in Zimbabwean pharmacies.

She was speaking on behalf of various old people’s homes that were gathered at the event.

Mukaratirwa also cited the shortage of vehicles and ambulances to ferry the elderly clinics in cases of emergency.

“We do not have even a vehicle which can ferry our people to the nearest clinic in case of emergency; for instance, if one of our elders gets sick during the night, we cannot take them to the hospital until the following morning when we can look for a vehicle,” she said.

“We have also been facing challenges in accessing medication at our nearest pharmacies and also accessing blood for our elderly. We have to buy most of the medication.”

Zimbabwe’s elderly citizens account for about 6% of the country’s population, according to Help Age Zimbabwe’s report for 2015.

However, the twilight years of many of the nation’s citizens has remained worrisome.

Old People’s homes also appealed to government to have the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority revise their status to “commercial” so they could be made to pay less in their income-generating projects.

“We also appeal to you Minister to take to ZESA to change our grid from domestic to commercial so that we can pay less for our income generating projects.

“We believe if we are placed on commercial, we will be able to pay less because we have farming projects here.”

In his response, Minister Mavima said government was going to look into the problems faced by the elderly in their homes while also promising to initiate some income generating projects and workshops to support the country’s senior citizens.

“We would like to create resilient and sustainable income generating projects and training workshops which will be supported by the Ministry to all older Persons Institutions nationwide,” said Mavima.

“The Ministry has a Food Deficit Mitigation program which disburses grain in 50kg bags targeting older persons and vulnerable members of the community to alleviate poverty and hunger, and the Department of Social Welfare will continue giving per Capita grants pegged at ZWL$200 every month.”