The O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation has called for greater attention to the basic needs of older persons in the country as the World marked the United Nations International Day of Older Persons on October 1, 2021.
Mrs. Ineba Tongkam, the Foundation’s Coordinator of Programmes, made the call during a media programme commemorating this year’s International Day of Older Persons.
Noting the 2021 theme for the day- “Digital Equity for All Ages,” underscored the growing and central importance of digital literacy around the world, she also stated that the disruptive effects of COVID-19 on the global economy and in particular household incomes have created unique challenges for vulnerable older persons who are grappling with subsistence needs.
She called on governments and development partners in Nigeria to pay more attention to the basic needs of older persons as an integral part of their strategic responses to vulnerable persons impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The most current data projects that Africa’s older population – 60 years and above – will grow faster than any other region of the world.
In 2020, Nigeria had the largest number of older persons in Africa (10.9 million). This is projected to triple to about 33.2 million by 2050, which will be the 11th largest older population in the world. This large cohort of elders will require specialized health, economic and social care which must be planned for today.
Mentioning the Foundation’s ongoing 20th year anniversary, she stated that, “Since September 2001 when the Foundation was established, we have taken care of poor and neglected older persons providing them with comprehensive healthcare, monthly feeding and stipends also on a monthly basis. 600 poor, sick and neglected elders have benefitted to date.
In addition, ”Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we also ran a recreational centre where seniors socialized every weekday, were served two nutritious meals every weekday and had their healthcare needs taken care of. All that is now being provided to them at their homes, alongside the home-bound seniors under our care for the rest of their lives.”
She also noted that Foundation is deepening its work on elders through the 50-million-Naira High Chief Dr O. B. Lulu-Briggs Geriatric Endowment Fund at the Rivers State University which was announced in 2019 and launched earlier this year to promote healthy ageing in Nigeria through support for the advancement of scientiﬁc, occupational therapeutic, educational research, and medical care in Geriatric Medicine, and the establishment of a world-class Geriatrics Medical Unit at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital.
Now in its 20th year of programming, the O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation was established by Dr Mrs Seinye O. B. Lulu-Briggs to implement sustainable interventions that enhance the quality of life for under-served persons.
It’s programming also covers Free Medical Missions, Access to Clean Water and Sanitation, Education and Scholarships and Micro-credit and Entrepreneurship. In September it announced a yearlong celebration of its 20th anniversary, which saw it embark on a massive free eye clinic in Port Harcourt.
The next event on its yearlong celebration will be a free legal clinic scheduled to hold in November.
In the last two decades, amongst others, the foundation has provided comprehensive care for the elderly mostly in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. It has also championed the need for policies that provide for and protect senior citizens across Nigeria.