- Greetings Hon. Premier Zikalala, Speaker, Chairperson Mbatha-Cele, MPL’s, fellow colleagues and guests.
- In the last 8 months the COVID-19 pandemic has most certainly changed the way we socialize, work, live and in this case the way in which older persons are treated and affected.
- The elderly age group is most vulnerable. Their immune systems deteriorate with age, making it increasingly difficult to fight not just COVID-19 but other diseases. In South Africa almost 37 percent of all deaths are due to non-communicable diseases such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Seniors are also more likely to suffer from other health conditions, like heart and respiratory diseases resulting in moderate to no recovery. The Minority Front believes that until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, seniors will have to take additional precautions and measures and so must the government.
- Hon. members, one of the biggest challenges faced by older persons in a pandemic, is access to medical treatments and healthcare. Unstable health care systems and out of pocket medical expenses leave thousands of poor people, without basic care, Hon.Premier. Hence, barriers to accessing healthcare for their existing underlying conditions, increases their vulnerability to COVID-19.
- Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic has embedded ageism, age based discrimination and stigmatization of older persons due to their vulnerability.
- For the 2020 Senior Citizens Parliament, the Minority Front therefore recommends the following government remedial measures to manage age and ageing in a COVID-19 world, where preparation is key:
- Future investment: Strengthen medical capacity to fight pandemics by increasing the supply of intensive care beds, ventilators and other essential goods and equipment.
- Aging Population: Government programs and budgets should focus on improving how the South African population grows older.
- South African Policy for Older Persons: South Africa adopted the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing in 2002 and nationally, outside of the limited parameters of the Older Persons Act of 2006, no further policy or legislation has been developed to address gaps, whilst the Madrid plan has been minimally implemented. The MF thanks the government for the current amendments underway for the Social Assistance Bill.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges to humanity and remains a threat to the health, lives, rights and well-being of older persons. Therefore, the Minority Front believes it is crucial to minimize risks by addressing the needs and human rights of older persons in our efforts to fight the pandemic. Finally, we need to be a more inclusive, impartial and an age-friendly society, anchored in human rights and guided by the shared promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to “Leave No One Behind”.
- Thank you.
Hon. Angeline Bhikshu
Minority Front Senior’s League Representative
KZN Legislature Senior Citizens Parliament 2020