The organisation’s secretary general, Balla Musa Joof, welcomed the attendees and told them that the organisation supports the elderly because they play a key role in the development of our society. “But because of changes in our lives we have also seen older people finding it difficult for some of their basic needs like healthcare to be addressed. This was why ASI was established in January 2010 to support the elderly in The Gambia to lead a healthier and dignified life,” he said. “This year we are celebrating five years of dedicated service to older persons in the country. Our key focus is on improving the health and welfare of older persons and we do this through our free community-based cleanings which are done in partnership with some medical volunteers mainly from Pakala Clinic, Sheikh Zayed Regional Eye Care Centre and Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital and the local community health centres.”
Joof stated that older persons need support and care and this was why they are engaging government to be aware of their plight and what they need to do to help them live healthier and dignified lives.
“In traditional Gambian society, older persons have always been adequately cared for by family members, neighbours and the wider community. Their contributions have been valued. We are witnessing unprecedented changes in our lives. The elderly face an increasing burden of chronic diseases including diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, cardiovascular problems and failing eyesight. Older people play a vital role in African society today. Across the continent, millions of families would not survive without the contribution of older people from caring for orphaned grandchildren to providing much needed household income. Yet older people are often excluded from development programmes and discriminated against by services such as health care.”
Also speaking, Metta Kongira, the assistant secretary general of ASI said: “We want the public to be aware of the association’s achievements since its inception in 2010 by highlighting them. We conduct screenings in communities and various health facilities in collaboration with the ministry of health, our volunteers and we have reached out to so many older persons in different communities within the greater Banjul area, but we have intentions of expanding to other parts of the country. We have realised that there are so many organisation that are advocating for the rights and welfare of young people, women and children in the country but there are not so much about older persons that is why ASI comes into existence to care for older persons in The Gambia. Among the constraints faced by the association range from resource mobilisation, expansion of services to other parts of the country almost all the members are working in the spirit of volunteerism.”]]>