The government will spend around Frw 75 billion over the next four years on services aimed at improving the dignity and self-esteem of older people in Rwandan society, New times has learned.
According to Rwandan labor law, the elderly are people over the age of 65.
The funds will be spent on the implementation of a detailed strategic plan which is part of the new policy on the elderly which was approved by Cabinet on Monday, May 31.
The plan is divided into four parts and includes sensitization of community members to ensure the physical, economic and psychological preparation of the elderly (approximately Rwf 107 million) as well as the improvement of the health and quality of life of the people. elderly (60 billion Rwf).
Additional programs include the promotion of positive values for intergenerational relationships (Rwf 673 million) and the provision of protection and care to the elderly through appropriate support services which have received Rwf 14 billion.
Most of the funds will go to health to solve different problems, mainly by alleviating the growing burden of noncommunicable or chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes in the elderly.
Figures released last week by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) indicate that a total of 32,609 people (22,634 men and 9,975 women) died in 2020, the causes of death are dominated by communicable diseases at 62.3%, especially in people. over 55 years old.
Although 87 percent of the elderly in Rwanda are covered by community health insurance commonly known as ‘Mutuelle de Santé’, people on Ubudehe 1 who are supposed to have free coverage are often more likely to be excluded and left behind. without cover. This strategic plan hopes to remedy this.
Optimizing the elderly
Last year, while parliamentarians were discussing the bill concerning the ratification of the additional protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the rights of older persons in Africa, MP John Ruku-Rwabyoma was l one of the parliamentarians pushing the government to speed up the creation of the policy on the elderly.
Speaking to the New Times on Wednesday, Rwabyoma said the policy is timely and instrumental and will promote the use of skills and expertise that older people have accumulated over their years of service.
“It’s a step in the right direction. We are too busy and sometimes unable to provide timely services to our seniors. With this policy and its guidelines, we are ready to fill these gaps. We desperately need professionals in this field to meet their needs as they are a very valuable part of our society, ”he said.
The president of the Rwanda Pensioners Association, Dorothée Uwimana, said in an interview that they were “excited” by the new policy as they had been waiting for it for years.
“We are grateful because this policy resolves so many challenges. We represented the elderly but we had no documented basis to defend our cause and that made our advocacy work very difficult, but the elderly need a lot to live fuller lives, ”she said.
Reacting to the approval of the policy, the director of “Nsindagiza”, a civil society organization fighting for the well-being of older people, Ellie Mugabowishema, said it was an important step towards l improvement of human rights in Rwanda.
He said it was proof that Rwanda was fully committed to ensuring the full achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, which can only be done if no one has been left behind.
He explained that while there are some programs that support older people, the lack of a policy in place was frustrating for most stakeholders.
“The assumption is that older people are loved and respected and because of that there aren’t many laws or written policies protecting them. Without a written document, there is no basis. This is an important step, ”he said.
He commended the government for involving organizations like his and other elderly people at every step of the process, adding that this would facilitate the implementation of the political plan.
He added that the government’s commitment is not felt only in planning and budgeting.
“When you look at the budget, this money, divided over four years, represents about Rwf 18 billion. You can’t say you enjoy something and not plan and budget for it. The fact that there is a strategic plan and a budget means that the government is taking this seriously, ”he said.
According to the NISR, there are approximately 707,000 elderly people in Rwanda.