The Minister of Health, Miss Sherry Ayittey has urged private Medical and Dental Practitioners to lead the change in ensuring healthy ageing for older people throughout the country.
She said they could achieve the change by stimulating, collating, analysing and disseminating information on the rights, policies and practices that improved the quality of life of people as they aged.
Miss Ayittey made the call in a speech read for her by Dr. Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) at the opening of the 35th annual general congress of the Society of Private Medical and Dental Practitioners (SPMDP) Ghana, in Sunyani, over the weekend.
The four-day congress on the theme “Healthy Ageing” attracted about 150 participants and aimed at bringing all stakeholders together in the effort towards the promotion of the good health of the country.
It was also a learning platform for the private sector health practitioners to identify the changing trends in health delivery services to improve on their knowledge base for professional best practices.
Miss Ayittey stated that it was now anticipated that by 2050 the number of persons aged 60 years and over should reach 2 billion, adding that, by that same year, in most countries, the number of the over 80 years was likely to hit 400 million.
She said those numbers meant all must be proactive and dispassionate about issues concerning the aged, despite the fact that they create a significant policy challenges in every nation.
The Minister of Health appreciated “the demographic picture and dynamics” of the SPMDP and expressed optimism that it was well-placed to lead the discussion on ageing because there were several policy directions that could affect the aged in the country.
“By leading such a discussion, you would also be contributing to helping the International Federation on Ageing to achieving the objectives of its mission statement,” she added.
Mr. Paul Evans Aidoo, Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister, in an address delivered for him by Mr. Justice Samuel Adjei, Deputy Regional Minister, emphasised that it was the responsibility of every Ghanaian to assist in promoting the nation’s good health since that was the best way of ensuring its prosperity and development.
Mr. Aidoo explained that healthy ageing was about optimising opportunities for good health, so that older people could take active part in society and enjoy an independent and high quality of life.
The Regional Minister noted that ageing was not a burden and did not necessarily decrease a person’s ability to contribute effectively to the progress of society.
Hence “our culture and traditional beliefs value the existence of the elderly in our societies because of the wisdom and knowledge they have accumulated through experience from their many years of living”, he added.
Mr. Aidoo said traditional leaders, local authorities, health workers and the aged themselves, together had a role to play in ensuring the sound well-being of Ghana’s ageing population.
Dr. Kwasi Odoi-Agyarko, national President of SPMDP said family physicians, who provide care in the community “are major players in ensuring good geriatric care”.
He therefore suggested preventive care, early assessment, appropriate rehabilitation and community support services, as not only helping to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions, but also to improve the quality of life in the elderly.
Dr. Odoi-Agyarko observed that a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses and social workers would provide a comprehensive range of services and act as the primary health care providers and case managers for elderly patients in the communities.
He said working with community support services providers as well as hospital staff and relevant ministries, private Medical and Dental Practitioners could co-ordinate and better provide holistic care to the home-bound elderly with complex medical and social problems.
Dr. Aaron Asare, Brong-Ahafo Regional Chairman of the SPMDP, noted that diseases of the vital organs of the body like the Heart and Lungs were most often associated with ageing process.
Dr. Asare therefore advised that people must pay serious attention to poor Dentition and impairment of posture and movement, in particular, because they also contribute to the seeming appearance of old age.
He stressed the need for a proper plan now for the attainment of long life after retirement, saying that, “whether one will have a good body posture, graceful movement and good enough teeth to chew with, at age 90 will depend on one’s actions in one’s 50s or earlier”.
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