NUC set to endorse geriatrics study in 11 universities -- Official

The National Universities Commission (NUC) has commenced arrangements for post graduate study in geriatric medicine in 11 universities across the country, an official said.
Dr Emem Omokaro, a leading scholar on ageing studies development at the NUC, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday.

Geriatrics or geriatric medicine is a specialty that focuses on the health of elderly people and the UN has designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD).
The day aims to focus global attention on the problem of physical, emotional and financial abuse of elders.
Omokaro, also an Executive Director at the Dave Omokaro Foundation (DOF), said modalities for the development of curriculum for post graduate study in universities had already reached advanced stage.
Though she did not disclose the institutions involved, Omokaro said the programme was being executed in collaboration with the DOF, supported by other stakeholders.

She added that ``the Dave Omokaro Foundation is working with the NUC; we actually have a partnership agreement to develop and build capacity in the management of the elderly in our midst.

``On July 1 and July 2, we will be hosting stakeholders’ meeting to discuss further on the subject matter; we are in the process of developing a curriculum for the study of geriatrics at post graduate level in our universities.

``We want to develop sufficient capacity at all levels and believe that it is the first step toward addressing the challenge of care for the elderly in our society.’’

The director called for review of the approach to care and support for the aged in Nigeria and in developing countries around the world.
She also called for a paradigm shift in the support and care of the elderly from family and relations to institutions or a more organised set up.

The scholar said caring for the aged by family members or relations was no longer fashionable, given the trends in the society and emerging challenges associated with the old practice.

She said the false impression in many quarters was that ageing was not a development problem, stressing that the mindset should be changed for the problem to be addressed effectively.

``There has to be a course of action that is geared toward changing both the mindset and the existing framework.
``There is actually nothing in place for our elderly; we want to start something that is complete, care for the aged must be taken as a national policy that must be addressed squarely.’’

She identified neglect as the major challenge faced by the elderly in Nigeria, adding that health care, transportation and access to other social services were other challenges.

Omokaro said defective policies and the absence of a national policy were responsible for the poor care and support for the aged in Nigeria.

She said a robust capacity building programme supported by aggressive public sensitisation on care for the aged would help in reversing the trend in Nigeria.

The director said DOF was at the forefront of promoting a better environment for aged Nigerians, especially in rural communities.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) data suggests that four to six per cent of the elderly suffer from some form of abuse.
Estimates indicate that by 2050, the global population of people above the age of 60 will exceed the number of younger people.
In Nigeria, the 2006 population census indicates that there will be 3.8 million males and 3 million females aged between 60 years and above. (NAN)

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