May 28, 2009, 10:02 AM
The Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Abubacarr Gaye over the weekend presided over the official launch of the Ageing With Smile Initiative (ASI), a new organisation committed in supporting the welfare of elderly people.
In his statement, Dr. Gaye said "Aging is a natural process and should be welcome, because the alternative would be premature death."
According to him, today the elderly are the world's fastest growing population group, who is unfortunately the poorest segment of society.
"We must meet the needs of the older persons who are alive today and plan ahead to meet the needs of the elderly tomorrow. We should not underestimate the role the elderly play culturally and traditionally in our societies," Dr Gaye said.
He urged all to build on the positive values in cultures to encourage the protection and respect of elderly person. This, he noted, is particularly true for elderly women, who outnumbered men of their age.
Health Minister said societies all over the world are currently engaged in the process of preparing for the challenges of coming years with The Gambia being no exception. He added that "the absence of material deprivation for older people is a fundamental precondition for an active later life, but equally important are social intergration, equal, rights and access to adequate health care long term care."
For his part, Mayor of KMC, Yankuba Colley said "as Africans more so Gambians, we all grew up in the kind of social settings that teach us to take care of the old, the sick and the vulnerable."
He commended the initiators of Ageing With Smile Initiative for placing emphasis on this very important value.
Speaking earlier, Bala Musa Joof, Coordinator of ASI, stated that today's society has been built through the concerted efforts of the previous generations.
According to the ASI Coordinator, the majority of the older people in
Other speakers included Momodou Gassama, Health and Promotion Officer, and the Secretary-General of Ageing with Smile Initiative.