Friday, May 24, 2024
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Brunei Town

Neglect not the elderly

James Kon

A new action plan for the elderly under the National Council on Social Issues focussing on a strategy for successful ageing giving priority to the development, welfare and well-being of the elderly in the country has been developed, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Nazmi bin Haji Mohamad said.

The action plan was developed collaboratively between the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) and the Ministry of Health (MoH), the minister said in his message for the 32nd International Day of Older Persons celebration which fell yesterday.

Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Nazmi also shared that nearly 83 per cent of the activities under the action plan for 2017-2021 have and continue to be implemented, and that the plan of action has been reviewed.

According to the Preliminary Count of Total Population 2021 under the Population and Housing Census 2021, he highlighted that “the elderly aged 60 and over account for 10.1 per cent of the total population in Brunei Darussalam, showing that the country has reached the phenomenon of ‘population ageing’.

“Therefore, preparations to manage the implications related to this phenomenon need to be strengthened nationally and in an integrated manner, taking into account the needs of the elderly in all policies, strategies and programmes.” October 1 this year marked the 32nd International Day of Older Persons in Brunei Darussalam alongside all United Nations (UN) member states themed ‘The Resilience and Contributions of Older Women’.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Nazmi bin Haji Mohamad

The celebration of the International Day of Older Persons aims to raise public awareness on the growing number of elderly people in Brunei Darussalam, and the need to ensure everyone has the opportunity to reach old age with dignity as well as the ability to continue to participate in society.

The continuous contribution of the elderly is also always appreciated, especially as a source in sharing valuable experience and knowledge as well as their role in unifying the family through guidance and advice, the minister said.

He said when Brunei Darussalam was faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, the elderly also contributed as volunteers and assisted at vaccination centres, food ration distribution centres for COVID-19 and health centres.

“Their support and contribution should be emulated and we are immensely proud to have an elderly population that is always supportive of the government’s efforts in many aspects,” Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Nazmi said.

In line with the theme for this year, he noted that the strategy for successful ageing will also take into account the needs of elderly women in an inclusive manner.

Therefore, the findings of the Study on Women’s Development in Brunei Darussalam which is underway, will be integrated to outline the development needs of elderly women in this country.

This includes organising a forum in conjunction with the International Day of Older Persons 2022 which will be held at the end of this year as a continuation to the ASEAN Regional Forum to Strengthen Social Protection Policy Focusing on Women and the Ageing Population which was organised by Brunei in 2019, the minister said.

Alongside these initiatives, he said, “The establishment of Senior Citizens Activity Centres in each district is intended to encourage the elderly to be more active in religious, social and development programmes, including entrepreneurship, skills training and healthcare activities. These centres do not only function as support centres for the local community, they also aim to strengthen relationships among the elderly, youth, persons with disabilities and the local community.”

Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Nazmi iterated, “We must also be sensitive to elderly who require additional care and support due to being bedridden or infirm, living alone as those who suffer from dementia. Therefore, the Caring for the Elderly Project has been organised to help care for our elderly in need. It is run by the MCYS together with volunteer organisations such as The Heart Volunteers programme, FEED Family Empowerment and Economic Development (FEED) Project, Demensia Brunei, youth volunteers Brunei Council on Social Welfare (MKM), Foodlifebn and Buzzing Bees. May these efforts be granted with bountiful rewards from Allah the Almighty.”

In conjunction with the International Day of Older Persons 2022, he called on all to pray for the health of the elderly in the country, not only because of their services and contributions in developing the society and the country, but also their knowledge and experience to benefit the next generation as role models and life guides.

“There is no doubt that the well-being and development of the country that we enjoy presently, resulted from the hard work of the previous generations. Hence, it is fitting for us to give our care and love to the elderly by ensuring their well-being towards the achievement of Brunei Vision 2035.”

He added, “To all our elderly persons in Brunei Darussalam, we express our appreciation and gratitude for all the services and sacrifices that have been contributed for the sake of the monarch, country, religion and nation and for future generations to come.

“May our elderly always be in the protection of Allah the Almighty, blessed with continued good health in contributing and being the core of the strength of the community and economic development of the country.”