MoH launches priority signage for the elderly people in all the health facilities across the country

In tandem with the government’s commitment to narrow the gap, and to promote people-centered health services with care and compassion, the Ministry of Health (MoH) launched a Priority Signage, Health and Wellbeing Handbook, coinciding with the International Day for Older Persons.

The priority signage will be displayed in all the health facilities across the country, and this will facilitate the older people 65 years and above, and people living with disability to access health services on priority.

The Health and Wellbeing Handbook will be issued to all the older people who visit the health facilities. The handbook will be used to document all medical conditions, treatment, any home bound care needs, and follow up checkups.

The Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said the health ministry has registered around 20,043 elderly people, and out of which, around 15,000 have health conditions with comorbidities.

In addition to the launch of the two critical interventions, the month of October will be declared as the month of older people, and throughout October, the health screening for various Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) will be supplemented with the assessment of mental health conditions amongst older people. This is timely and highly relevant as there are growing occurrences of mental health illnesses amongst the elderly population along with an anticipated rise in the incidence of NCDs.

The Prime Minister, in his statement, said, “I would like to share that it is not the service we are offering, but a responsibility we all must shoulder, not just today but for every day.  Just as His Majesty The King keeps them close to the heart with special care and benevolence, we must also do our part to hold the wrinkling hands, who have held ours since the beginning. Let us pledge to be the cane that will prop them with strength and pride until the end.”

MoH aims to enhance person centered care across all ages, and is committed to fully addressing the health needs of the older population.

Meanwhile, a message from Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, stated, in 2017 the number of people in the region aged 60 years and older was estimated to be 186 million against a global estimate of 962 million. By 2050 the number of older people globally is expected to rise to more than 2 billion, which will include around 20 percent of the region’s population.

She further stated that all older people must be empowered to fulfil their potential and live with dignity and equality in a healthy environment. WHO will continue to support Member States of the Region to achieve this outcome and accelerate progress on the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing priorities by creating age-friendly environments, combating ageism, and strengthening the provision of integrated and long-term care.

It takes a holistic approach to health and well-being for older people, going beyond organ and disease-centric approaches. Amid the COVID-19 response, several countries of the region have already begun implementing the Integrated Care for Older People (ICOPE) framework, which provides evidence-based, comprehensive guidance on how primary health care providers can screen, assess and manage a range of health problems. WHO will continue to support the implementation of the ICOPE, with a focus on strengthening the capacity of health and care workers to provide integrated, compassionate and people-centered care.  

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