Law needed to ensure senior citizens’ rights: Webinar

Speakers at a webinar in the capital on Sunday stressed the need for expanding the social safety net for the elderly people and enactment of a law to ensure their rights.


Prabin Odhikar Mancha Bangladesh, a forum working on the rights of elderly people, arranged the webinar marking the International Day of Older Persons, observed on October 1.


State Minister for Social Welfare Md Ashraf Ali Khan Khasru spoke at the programme as the chief guest at the virtual seminar presided over by Chairman of Prabin Odhikar Mancha Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad.


The State Minister said now 7-9 percent of the country’s population is counted as older persons and their number is growing with the rise in the average life expectancy of people.


Referring to various steps taken by the government for the elderly citizens, Ashraf Ali said some 44 lakh senior citizens have already been brought under the old age allowance and the government’s allocation alone against it was Tk 2,620 crore in the 2019-20 fiscal year.


Taking into account the plight of the elderly people during the Covid-10 pandemic, he said an amount of Tk 300 crore has been earmarked for 5 lakh more senior citizens in 112 upazilas, which will be introduced in every upazila of the country in phases, he said.


The state minister called upon all to come forward from their respective position to improve the condition of the elderly people, not just depending on the government.


Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, also the PKSF chairman, said there is no alternative to caring for social and family values to ensure the rights and dignity of the elderly people.


He stressed the need for working together for improving the living standards of the elderly people alongside forging bond between the young generation and the older generation.


He emphasized the importance of better healthcare of the elderly people in Bangladesh.


Dr Ahmad laid emphasis on development of the healthcare sector to protect the senior citizens.


General Secretary of the platform Abul Hasib Khan delivered the welcome speech, while Former Senior Research Fellow of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) Dr Sharifa Begum made a presentation.


PKSF Managing Director Mohammad Moinuddin Abdullah, Treasurer of the platform Dr Md Jasim Uddin and officials of different national and international organisations and eminent personalities took part in the webinar.


The speakers said the number of older people (aged 60 or above) globally is projected to grow from 901 million in 2015 to 1.4 billion in 2030 (16.5 percent of the world population) and to 2.1 billion (21.5 percent) in 2050.


They said Bangladesh is currently enjoying a demographic dividend. At present, 62 percent of the total population is working youths which is accelerating the economic growth of the country.


But Bangladesh will be able to enjoy this demographic dividend till 2035 and from then the number of working youths will gradually decline which could have a negative impact on the economy of the country, they said underlining the need for creating jobs for the people of all ages.


Source: United News of Bangladesh