"The elderly are granted several healthcare rights including the full medical insurance that the Health Ministry offers to people over 60, but the question is whether Jordan has elderly-friendly environment and accessible medical institutions that allow them to benefit from these services," SIGI’s Executive Director and former culture minister Asma Khader said on Thursday.
During a panel discussion held by the Sisterhood Is Global Institute (SIGI) in cooperation with Help Age International, the participants discussed the various services provided to the elderly and their unmet needs, with a special focus on the female elderly.
In her opening speech, Khader stressed the need to translate these pledges to focus on the elderly into tangible measures, solid legislation and quality services.
Hassan Ghanem, director of the elderly health department at the ministry said: "There are existing elderly-friendly medical centres in the Kingdom. We know that they are still insufficient, but we are working our hardest to expand them."
He cited plans to open clinics at the elderly care homes with two visiting doctors and a resident nurse to facilitate the elderly's check-up process, adding that the ministry also offers psychiatry services upon request.
"We are hindered by many challenges including the economic situation, the pressure on the infrastructure due to the refugee crises and the absence of doctors or even nurses specialised in geriatrics," Ghanem stated.
For Haifa Zalloum, director of the elderly department at the Social Development Ministry, "the ministry's efforts are not exclusive to the opening, licensing or financing elderly care centres, but also and more importantly to the observation and monitoring of these places and the services they offer."
"The major challenge we face is the lack of specialised cadres in addition to the fact that people don't prefer to work with the elderly due to the difficult nature of the work. There are also the issues of low wages and unsatisfactory financial reward," she continued.
Zalloum noted that the ministry, in addition to the care centres, offers financial aids for the elderly, loans for those who are able to work and willing to establish their own home-based businesses, in addition to the presence of four day-clubs where they can enjoy various activities.
Addressing herself as Muneera, an elderly attendee said: "I am almost 80 but I am still capable of giving, so why doesn’t the government offer means for the elderly to help them practice their daily life and take part in a useful job or a hobby that fills their times."
She called on offering wheelchairs to the elderly, making streets and pavements more accessible, and conducting training sessions and activities for teaching and practising useful handicrafts.
Khadijah Alaween, representative of the National Council for Family Affairs, said that the national strategy for the elderly, which was updated and launched for implementation in 2018, covers all the aspects that ensure protecting the elderly, but the challenge lies in following up with the implementation.
Shatha Malhas, the elderly liaison officer at the UNHCR spoke of the commission's efforts in serving this segment of the society among refugees too, citing the financial, medical, and care services they offer in addition to their cooperation with the across-the-kingdom branches of Princess Basma Community Development Centre so as to offer help to a wider range of beneficiaries.
She said that the commission has so far cooperated with 30 youngsters who volunteered to offer help to the elderly in their own houses instead of the care centres, which she said also developed a "strong and warm" relationship with the beneficiaries.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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