Accra, Sept 15, The Association of Retired Persons in Ghana (ARPG) on Thursday advocated the formulation of a national policy to address the needs of the aged in the country. Dr Ferdinand Tay, Board Chairman of ARPG, said the policy should spell out the national agenda for the aged as philanthropists and other stakeholders could only do a little to salvage the teeming problems of the aged.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra, he suggested that the policy should principally be clear on the minimum retirement benefit, develop free transportation scheme for the aged and provide free Medicare centres among other things.
He also suggested an avenue where individuals would be able to source part of their SSNIT contribution while in active service, to secure landed property to make retirement period less stressful. He indicated that the country did not place premium on issues relating to the aged who formed part of the vulnerable group in most communities adding: "As a result most international NGOs prefer responding to matters bothering children, HIV/AIDS and neglecting that of the aged."
Mr King David Affadzi, Director, ARPG, observed that the country lacked specialists with the requisite medical know-how to attend to the health needs of the aged.
"As a matter of urgency the Ministry of Health must explore means of training medical doctors, who will provide the medical needs of the aged as they are very delicate to be dealt with." he said. He said because SSNIT had over the years focused on the formal sector, the majority of the working force in the informal segment of the economy did not contribute to the Trust and that had adverse effect on them during their old age.
Mr Affadzi, however, noted that it was gratifying that SSNIT had taken steps to rope into the Trust members in the informal sector saying: "Every effort should be made to ensure that this avenue is attainable."
He pointed out that as more people poured out into the urban centres, children could no longer cater for the elderly, leaving them to wallow in poverty and described such attitudes as unacceptable. Mr Affadzi called on the media to hype the celebration of the international day of the aged as they did to valentine, mothers' and fathers' days to attract the maximum support of the public. He said the Association out of its meagre resources had offered free services such as free Medicare to the aged and currently planned to establish a recreational facility for them.