In Pakistan, nearly nine per cent of the population is of 55 years of age or above, hence, the need to properly address the healthcare needs of the elderly is taking an added importance. Poverty, large families, and a general lack of awareness are increasingly compromising the quality of life of the country’s elderly population.
Recognising the provision of healthcare to Pakistan’s senior citizens requires specialised training. The Aga Khan University (AKU) School of Nursing and Midwifery, therefore, is now offering ‘Care of the Elderly’ – a course which has been specifically designed to provide training in geriatrics to nursing and non-nursing students at the undergraduate level for the first time in Pakistan.
“In my opinion, nursing is going through an unprecedented change in Pakistan. The introduction of the course gives the students the knowledge and skills needed to meet the nation’s requirements”, asserts Jacqueline Maria Dias, the director of BSc Nursing at AKU-Sonam.
Dias, who is responsible for the implementation of the HEC curriculum at AKU-Sonam, feels continuous improvement in life expectancy and slow decline in birth rates will increase the challenges of providing age-appropriate care. “Nurses have a vital role to play in the care of older people. We are at the front of the service – we see, we hear, we do. But are we prepared, are we supported and are there enough of us to cope with these challenges?” questioned Samina Vertejee, the course coordinator. So far, 37 BScN students are enrolled at AKU-Sonam.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2013.