Speakers at a workshop to dilate on issues affecting older persons on Tuesday bemoaned the delay in passing an Ageing Policy, since attempts were made in 1997.
According to them, the 1992 Constitution and international commitments such as the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing and the African Union Policy Framework mandated governments to seek the interest of the aged, hence the policy should not have been delayed for this long.
Speaking at the workshop, which also saw the launch of a three-year project to reduce poverty and marginalisation among the aged, Nana Baah Okoampah VII, Acting President of HelpAge, Ghana, attributed the delay to lack of commitment to the interests of older persons.
"The issue is that we have largely treated their contributions as irrelevant to our developmental process and this has resulted in lackadaisical approach in addressing issues that impact negatively on their lives,” he added.
Nana Okoampah VII said despite the free health care for the aged through the National Health Insurance Scheme and the introduction of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme, the aged continued to have limited access to some social protection entitlements and public services.
Ms. Amleset Tewodros, Regional Programmes Manager of HelpAge International, said issues affecting the aged should be taken seriously considering that currently 40 million Africans were above 60 years.
She said the figure was expected to double by 2015 and increase five-fold by 2050.
Ms. Tewodros said, it was in this vein that HelpAge International was implementing the project dubbed: "Older Citizens Monitoring Programme” to empower the aged to demand their rights and other entitlements, instead of always being dependent.
She explained that the project being funded with an Irish aid would end in 2010 and was being implemented in 18 communities in Greater Accra, Ashanti and Volta regions.
According to her, the project was also in line with efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
Ms. Joanna Naadu Baddoo, Board member, HelpAge Ghana, called for recognition of the contribution of the aged in order to tap their expertise and experience for national development.