- The elderly presented a list of challenges they face in their day to day life, including lack of the health care they direly need
Dar es Salaam. The elderly exuded hope for a better life yesterday after President Samia Suluhu Hassan promised to address their myriad challenges, including access to health care and their security during her tenure.
President Hassan made the promises yesterday as she addressed the nation through some 1,000 Dar es Salaam elders.
This was her maiden address to the elders since she was sworn in as the sixth president.
All eyes were directed to the event as the elderly members of society hoped to hear how the government was going to address their many challenges, particularly under a new administration.
Reading a memorandum before the President, the chairman of Dar es Salaam Council of Elders, Mr Salum Matimbwa, outlined the challenges as including: access to health care, delayed pensions for the elderly, and lack of old age protection law.
Mr Matimbwa thanked the government for issuing medical exemption cards to the elderly, but noted that they were still facing challenges in health facilities.
“We’re not getting proper tests and medication, and these medical cards do not allow us to get treatment in referral and regional hospitals, we ask the government to expand our scope to get treatment in all hospitals,” he said.
He said that the national elderly policy of 2003, since no other law dealing with the elderly has been passed, so they were asking for a law to be enacted to protect them.
“The elders in the Mainland are aware that their counterparts in Zanzibar enjoy universal pension, we hope the same can be done for us, provided the economic situation allows it,” he said.
They also asked for improved protection for the elders when using public transport.
Responding, among other things, the President promised to ensure that the law was formulated out of the existing policy to improve elderly protection.
“We are focused to ensure that the law is available so that it can guide in dealing with matters of elders,” said President Hassan.
The Head of State also said that the government was ready to review the question of the universal pension for elderly but cautioned that this might take time as the economy was struggling to recover from the impact of Covid-19 asking them to be patient as matters settled.
“As you all know, all benefits for all Tanzanians are suspended awaiting the revival of our economy,” she said.
The President asked the elderly to support to her government promising to listen to them in order to develop the country.
“We need advice and also your criticism and we are ready to listen and take action,” she said.
President Hassan, who ascended to the highest office following the death of President John Magufuli on March 17, said her government was intend to tackle all challenges the elderly face including settlements to ensure welfare was improved.
Meanwhile, President Hassan explained that the changes she was making in government were not meant to oppress anyone, but were aimed at ensuing that national interests were served.
Helpage International Tanzania partnership and network manager Joseph Mbasha reacted to the President’s speech, saying it was really encouraging.
“Her admission that all the issues elders had raised were genuine is a good step towards addressing them,” Mr Mbasha told The Citizen yesterday.
Speaking shortly after the President’s speech, elders expressed their joy, saying they were inspired by the Head of State’s promises to address the raised issues.
Mr Salim Amar from the Shia Muslim Community exuded his optimism that the government would walk the talk on promises to address all issues they had raised for address.
In so doing, he said, would improve their standards of living.
“The President has been very open to us. She has noted the issues she will work on and those which have to wait,” Amar said.
“Let us give her time. Let us wait and see. But I am positive she will remember us.”