May 6, 2008, 6:25 AM
Ageing With Smile Initiative (ASI), a registered NGO yesterday held a press conference at the National Malaria Control Programme’s conference hall, aimed at briefing members of the press on the activities of the organisation and its launching ceremony, scheduled for Saturday at the KMC grounds.
It among others seeks to improve access to basic health care services to the disadvantaged elderly people in The Gambia, promote the re-integration of the elderly person in the Gambian social life, promote inter-generational dialogue and advocate for the rights of the elderly in The Gambia.
Addressing the gathering, the Secretary-General of ASI, Ousman Badjie told journalists that Ageing With Smile Initiative is a new and innovative drive in The Gambia that aims to help improve the lives of the elderly people in the country.
In traditional Gambian society, SG Badjie informed newsmen "elderly people have always been adequately cared for by family members, neighbours and the wider community."
"Changes in our lifestyle which is necessitated by a number of factors, including growing economic problems is forcing individuals and families to be more concerned with their own development than caring for and supporting others," he stated.
Mr. Badjie, however, told media personnel that this situation is putting the lives of many disadvantaged elderly people in misery. As he put it, they are neglected, living without adequate care and suffer in silence.
According to him, the elderly has contributed significantly towards the socio-economic development of the country and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. He noted that the initiative is based on helping the elderly in their homes, mainly funded by the private sector in The Gambia as part of their social corporate responsibilities.
Dilating on key intervention areas, Mr. Badjie stated that their works include "provision of routine health check- ups for the elderly at home, covering blood pressure, blood sugar, eye care, hearing, dental, health and nutrition, musculo- skeletal problems, promotion of personal hyiene and basic sanitation for the elderly (provision of portable water supply, laundry, appropriate clothing), conducting research on the situation of the elderly in The Gambia, revival of positive traditional roles of the elderly in the Gambian social life, such as story telling, riddles, jokes and knitting, among other interventions."
Also speaking to the press was the ASI Coordinator, Mr. Bala Musa Joof, who gave a brief overview of the initiative, saying that it is a new organisation that aims to steer the welfare of the elderly people in the communities in order to provide them access to medical care, among other health related problems.
According to him, the problem confronting the elderly people is numerous. But he was quick to say that loneliness in homes and health related problems are also contributing factors. He pointed out that the whole idea is for the elderly to live in a dignified life, while urging the private sector to invest in the elderly people.