MOH News

MOH Celebrates the International Day of Older Persons
01 October 2011
  Under the theme: “Adding life to years rather than years to life”, the Saudi Ministry of Health, represented by the Primary Health Care General Department, as well as the Kingdom's regions and provinces, participates in the world's celebration of the International Day of Older Persons, which falls on the first of October of each year.
Dr. Essam Abdullah Al-Ghamdi, Director-General of Primary Health Care, stated that the International Day of Older Persons, this year, focuses on addressing the challenges facing the agreements relevant to providing health care for the elderly in various countries around the world. The international agreements accentuate the right of the elderly to receive health and social care services that ensure for them prevention and treatment of diseases, as well as rehabilitation services after a disability.
The aim of the International Day of Older Persons this year is to raise awareness of the importance of providing the elderly with the same preventive, curative and rehabilitation services received by the other age groups. It also aims to enhance health services and preventive measures against both infectious and non-infectious diseases, in addition to providing technology assistance, and care services in the domain of rehabilitation.
At the national level, Dr. Al-Ghamdi expounded that Saudi Arabia, represented by the Ministry of Health, seeks to achieve and comply with the terms of these agreements, starting from the first level of the health service in the MOH, that is Primary Health Care Centers, by means of providing primary health care, which helps provide the elderly with all comprehensive and integrated health services at all levels of health. Among the aims of the International Day of Older Persons in the Kingdom, too, is to urge and guide the community, represented by the family, to pay further attention for the elderly, thus offering for them a healthy and hilarious life.
Seeking to achieve the well-being of this dear age-group, and in line with the global and regional trends and tendencies to care for the elderly, the Director-General of Primary Health Care Centers has made clear that the Elderly Health Care Program has been put into operation. Besides, he added, the Health Care Centers General Department has prepared the Health of Older People National Strategy, which was approved by His Excellency the Minister of Health, May God protect him.
Furthermore, the Department has enthusiastically begun implementing the strategy, and preparing a health care program for the elderly. In addition, an operational plan for the program has been prepared depending on the major pillars of the Health of Older People National Strategy. The plan stipulates that the health services offered have to be complete, comprehensive and of high quality. It also underscores the early detection of the aged patient's health, psychological and social problems. It also set forth the preparation of a multi-task health team with the aim to follow up the health of the elderly, develop and improve the efficiency and capacity of health staff in primary health care, in a way that enables them to communicate with the elderly and provide comprehensive health services for them. Moreover, the plan sheds light on the concept of "Active Aging", and draws attention to the older persons' involvement in treatment, as well as the unremitting education for medical staff, and finding solutions for medical problems at hospitals and health centers.
The Director-General of Primary Health Care emphasized that the development of curative and preventive services in our dear country has led to the reduction of morbidity and mortality among the elderly. The Kingdom, therefore, has witnessed an increase in the number of the elderly, making up around 4.8% of the total population of the kingdom in 2000. This percentage, however, is expected to rise to 10% by 2025, and 12.9% by 2050. And as the number of the elderly is constantly growing, there is an urgent need to provide comprehensive and integrated health services, at all levels of health, for this age group that we all appreciate.
Al-Ghamdi went on to say that the world is witnessing a remarkable increase in the number of the elderly.  The world is rapidly aging, he said. This is evident in the fact that while the percentage of those aged 60 years or more constituted 8.2% of the world population in 1950, it amounted to 10% in 2000, and is expected to leap to 22 % by 2050. The proportion of elderly will be, then, higher than the proportion of children aged 0-14 years. It is for this very reason that caring for the health of the elderly has become one of the pivotal and indispensable issues that captured the attention of all health officials throughout the world.
In that spirit, Al-Ghamdi pinpointed the specific objectives of the program, which are based on the early detection and treatment of the physical, mental, psychological and social problems common among the elderly; in addition to reducing their mortality, morbidity and disability. Also, these objectives include an emphasis on the promotion of health of the elderly and "Active Aging" and improving their life quality, in addition to endeavoring to carry this theme into effect: “Primary health care is a friend of the elderly”. The final goal is to enhance the provision of a respectable health and social life for the elderly, and maintain their positive and productive role in society.
It should be noted that the Kingdom's program of care for the elderly is based on the Health of Older People National Strategy (2010-2015), as well as the WHO trends of caring for the health of the elderly. The first phase of the program has already been carried out successfully. This phase included capacity building and rehabilitation of health workers to provide health care services for the elderly in health centers. This could be achieved through a number of training courses intended to train the Program coordinators throughout the Kingdom's provinces and health regions; in addition to training the physicians, doctors, and nurses of (100) health centers (five health centers in every region and province). This phase involves, besides, the preparation of manuals on how to care for the elderly at health centers, and the introduction of health records for the elderly, which is distinct from normal health records in both the content and the manner of behavior, as they ensure conducting comprehensive medical examination for the elderly, for the purpose of identifying the health problems they are suffering from, and handling them aptly at health centers. Furthermore, the plan includes preparing an awareness program on the health of the elderly, to be carried out by the Primary Health Care Centers, with a view to raise the community's awareness of the importance or caring for the elderly, and how this to be brought about.

Last Update : 04 October 2011 03:17 PM
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