June 28th 2017

Media / Watchdog

Kenyans urged to appreciate, help older people

Ms Mwanjisi said the older people played crucial roles in our societies, taking care of relatives, working hard in the homes and producing economically valuable services. “Over 12 million children orphaned by AIDS in Eastern and southern Africa are under the care of older people," she said.

By Rose Mukonyorosemukonyo@yahoo.comSaturday, 17 Dec 2016 13:34 EAT

Media and other stakeholders attending HelpAge International seminar at PrideInn Hotel, Nairobi. (Photo: Rose Mukonyo/Kenya Free Press).

The media has been urged to make ageing visible responsibly. As Amina J. Mohammed, Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning, said: “We must redouble our efforts to make ageing visible, to listen to, to include and hear older people, for our global agenda to deliver its true and visionary promise.”

HelpAge International's head of policy advocacy and communications, Jamillah Mwanjisi, told journalists at a recent workshop that older people in Sub Saharan Africa were facing disheartening challenges key among them discrimination and abuse. Ms Mwanjisi said the older people played crucial roles in our societies, taking care of relatives, working hard in the homes and producing economically valuable services. “Over 12 million children orphaned by AIDS in Eastern and southern Africa are under the care of older people," she said.

Shocking revelations were made by International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) advocacy and communications officer, Florence Anam, who said 4.2 million people aged 50+ were living with HIV, including more than two million in the Sub-Saharan Africa which accounts for 60% of all the people aged 50+.

Ms Anam said the older people living with HIV had been facing issues to deal with low perception of risk where it was reported that older people had a low uptake of HIV preventive measures. “This is a result of lack of awareness that is targeted for older persons, where media comes in,” she said.

According to Ms Anam, UNAIDS has a Fast Track Strategy to end AIDS by 2030 under the backdrop of “Leaving No One Behind,” key among these, 50+ in the society. Some of the new HIV prevention interventions as planned were employing the use of PrEP, HIV self-test and HIV treatment for life. Media was however sensitized on the need to create awareness and do responsive communication especially when airing lived experiences.

These sentiments were strongly echoed by Stay Alive For Us All (SAFUA), Older Persons HIV and AIDS Advocate Kenya, Mama Jacinta Mulatya who alleged that she was a survivor of irresponsible reporting by media after she publicly declared her HIV status. She was exposed to discrimination and has suffered great losses as a result of the same. “I urge media to be sensitive when reporting cases of older persons with HIV and observe ethics in regard to such,” said Mama Jacinta who is also in charge of SAFUA in partnership with HelpAge Intenational.

According to HelpAge International’s Moria Sloan, over 30% of older people living with HIV were found to have two or more chronic medical conditions. “These older people are more likely to remain on ART but still face Poverty and food insecurity as well stigma and discrimination,” she added.

Kenya Aged People Require Information Knowledge and Advancement (KARIKA) older persons’ Advocate Kenya, Mr Elijah Mwega, asked media to create awareness and advocate rights of older people in the way they report the issues.

Rose is a contributing writer for the Kenya Free Press, based in Machakos County.





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