PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Health Department has urged the provincial government to formulate a comprehensive healthcare strategy for the ageing population of the province.
In a letter, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, Health Secretary Abid Majeed stated that the health care issues of the ageing population need to be addressed urgently so that people can live independently for as long as possible.
“The challenges facing the ageing population include multiple chronic illnesses requiring long-term care, stress on the family, mental health issues such as dementia, disability and the chances of suffering physical injury,” the letter said.
He proposed that the government set up community geriatric centres with skilled and motivated staff to care for senior citizens at their homes or at the community level.
“Establishment of such centres would be financially less straining for both, the families and the government, in resolving most issues at the primary and secondary level,” Majeed wrote.
Moreover, the establishment of daycare centres- unlike residential old age homes - has been proposed which would provide entertainment and nursing care to elderly when their children are away from their jobs.
“Daycare centres could have outreach where a trained nurse could visit the home [of the patient] for breakfast, timely medication and cleaning up in the morning, at lunch time and at dinner time before the elderly go to bed,” the letter read.
The health department further suggested conducting an advocacy campaign for senior citizens and their families about preventive measures to keep the aged from falling and suffering from injuries. Moreover, it advocated taking measures such as automated staircases at public places like banks – frequented by pensioners.
It also recommended establishing hospices which are open not just to the terminally ill such as those suffering from cancer but to all who suffer non-communicable diseases.
A strategy for managing chronic illnesses of elders has also been suggested such as providing proper medication, access to free or subsidised medicines, particularly for expensive treatments.
Other measures which have been suggested include prevention of disabilities including hearing and visual support and physiotherapy centres with skilled staff to promote healthy lifestyle measures.
“I suggest consulting with research institutions and practitioners such as Khyber Medical University, heath organisations to at least prepare a draft strategy paper,” the health secretary suggested in the letter.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2017.
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