Report recommending an increase in cash assistance and pensions of the elderly
Amman - October 3, 2020
A report prepared by the National Council for Family Affairs (NCFA) called on the National Aid Fund to increase the value of cash assistance given to senior citizens to correspond to the requirements and needs of the elderly at these difficult times as the assistance given currently fails to meet their needs.
Evaluating the implementation plan of the National Strategy for Senior Citizens, prepared in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the assessment report pointed out that the current strategy and its implementation plan did not include an item for crises and risks such as the current Corona pandemic crisis that has greatly impacted the elderly.
The report, which Al-Ghad obtained a copy of, indicated that a large proportion of the elderly are still not covered by free health insurance, despite the fact that the government issued a decision to include all those over 60 years of age under public health insurance, which requires launching a public awareness campaign to inform the elderly of their rights.
The report also pointed out the absence of elderly medical care specialties, such as geriatrics and geriatric nursing, noting that specialized home care services in the private sector are quite expensive, and are not included in government and private health insurance programs.
It also emphasized the challenges that stand in the way of carrying out activities that could contribute to mitigating the costs of treatment and medical examinations, such as organizing free medical days in all governorates, underlining the need to re-evaluate the medical services provided for the elderly in the public hospitals.
The report also pointed out the continued lack of elderly-friendly public transportation services, giving special emphasis to rural and Badia regions, particularly those that are far from city centres which lack age-sensitive public transportation.
With regard to elderly literacy programs, the report revealed that it does not cover the entire Kingdom, as the illiteracy rate among them is still about 36% for males and 55% for females, and the percentage of workers among them has fluctuated, reaching 2.4% for males, and 3% for females.
On a positive note, the report highlighted the activities that have been implemented through the strategy's implementation plan, which contributed to bringing about positive changes to senior citizens and the institutions working with them. Moreover, a fund for the elderly has also been formed and the public health insurance coverage has included all those over 60 years old.
The report also shed light on the need for public and private sector collaboration to provide friendly compounds and housing loans for the elderly with preferential terms.
With regard to the current senior nursing homes, the report revealed their inability to accommodate further numbers, especially in light of the spread of the Coronavirus and the resulting need to provide adequate places to accommodate those exposed to the virus, in addition to the shortage in health, social and psychological personnel in these homes.
The report recommends that media and civil society institutions should play a greater role in raising awareness on the violence perpetrated against senior citizens, and the required mechanisms for providing care and protection for those who are subjected to abuse, especially since violence against them increased during closures due to the Corona pandemic and the resulting economic pressures.
Recommendations also included calling on the relevant institutions to launch awareness campaigns to take care of them and to track down and stop the violence that is practiced on them during this period in coordination with the Family Protection Department at the Public Security Directorate.
Moreover, the report urged that a tracking system and a comprehensive evaluation of the National Strategy for Senior Citizens should be developed, including within a documentation of all actions and achievements. Subsequently, and based on the evaluation results, the strategy should be updated incorporating the national response to the pandemic within it.
Other recommendations included the need to incorporate emergency allocations into the budgets of the relevant ministries to face the economic and social impacts of COVID 19 pandemic, and launch a national fund to alleviate the burdens of the crisis, which can be linked to the “Himmat Watan” Fund (Nation’s Efforts).
The report also called on the Social Security Corporation to provide immediate cash assistance to retirees whose salaries are below the poverty line, as their percentage reached 44.3% at the end of the year 2015 and is forecast to get higher.
According to NCFA Secretary-General, Dr. Muhammad Miqdadi, the assessment report aims to review the activities and goals of the strategy between 2018 and 2022 and evaluate their consistency, gender sensitivity and alignment with the requirements and needs of the elderly.
Miqdadi said that key achievements contained in the midterm assessment include: the issuance of a monthly statistical bulletin on elder abuse; the implementation of surveys on older persons’ health requirements, thus enhancing the creation of a database for older persons; the implementation of training programs on elderly home care; and capacity building for workers in nursing homes.
Bouchta Mourabit, the humanitarian coordinator at the UNFPA Office in Jordan, highlighted the importance of partnering with NCFA in elderly issues, considering that Jordan has made great strides in human rights issues, including the rights of the elderly, stressing the need to mobilize support for this age group.