Ageing concerns each and every one of us – whether young or old, male or female, rich or poor – no matter where we live. For the first time in human history, the world will soon have more older people than children; that is why this year World Health Day on 7 April is dedicated to healthy ageing.
The day is to draw attention to the way we think and act about ageing so that as a society we don’t miss the opportunity to age in good health and build a society where older people are respected and valued members of society.
For many older men and women in Buburi, retirement isn’t an option. Like Francisca Nekesa, 71 (pictured below) who, after the death of her son, was left to care for his three young children. Every day is a struggle for Francisca to make ends meet and she often worries about the health of the family: “We live in a small house. We only have one bed and the children have to sleep on the floor. The day the mosquito nets were distributed to the community I was away working so we do not have any mosquito nets in our house. My son died of malaria so I know the risks”.
Sallie Buck, Friends of Buburi trustee, says including older men and women in improving community health is vital: “In rural communities like Buburi, longevity doesn’t always depend on looking after your health; it can simply be good luck, such as a woman not dying during child birth or not contracting HIV/AIDs, it’s not always within her control. Friends of Buburi are making the community aware that they have choices and educating them about the risk. Older men and women are often the carers of the next generation so it is vital that we include them in training and raising awareness of health related issues so that they can not only improve their own health but the health of future generations too.”
World Health Day encourages everyone to keep older people at the heart of the family and the community, value their contribution to society and provide good, affordable health care. Good health throughout life can help older men and women lead full and productive lives and ultimately, everyone benefits in societies where older people thrive.