Ibadan — The Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, and former Minister of Works, Chief Tony Anenih, at the weekend emphasised the need to take care of the aged.
They noted that the old people must no longer be left in the hands of providence to survive through "the grace of a socio-cultural system, which imposes on the young the obligation to take care of the old."
The minister, who was in Ibadan, to inaugurate the Chief Tony Anenih Geriatric Centre at the University College Hospital (UCH), stated that the Federal Government, despite the reports about life expectancy in the country, still wanted Nigerians to live to their fullest age and in good health.
He explained that the audacity of President Goodluck Jonathan to approve of the centre as well as making fund available for its construction was an indication of his commitment to longer life for the citizenry.
He said otherwise the centre would have been a white-elephant project.
Chukwu stated that The Chief Tony Anenih Geriatric Centre would go a long way in ensuring that senior citizens of the country no longer died prematurely.
The minister, who lauded Anenih's philanthropic gesture and the endowment of the centre, stated the need for more Private-Public Partnership initiatives to support service provision in all sectors of the economy.
Earlier, the endower, Anenih, had exuded that the track record of UCH for excellence made it possible for him to accept to endow the project and said that the idea of a geriatric centre was long overdue, because facilities to cater for Nigeria's increasing number of elderly were virtually non-existent.
He lamented: "If the truth must be told, apart from a few exceptional cases, not much is being done in Nigeria by way of planning for or thinking of the welfare and health of old people. There is hardly any consideration for them in our health planning, policies and budgetary allocations. Nobody seems to be thinking about the aged."
Anenih who expressed delight at the honour bestowed on him by the tertiary hospital in the country by naming the centre after him, said study had shown that the population of the elderly in the developing countries was rising.
According to him, "what studies show is that the population of the elderly is rising more rapidly in developing countries than in developed ones. It is expected that, by 2020, almost 70 percent of the world's elderly people will be in developing countries (700million as against 318 million in the developed world).
"While it is good news that more and more people are likely to live longer and longer, we must be alarmed that the facilities to cater for them are virtually non-existent. If the truth must be told, apart from a few exceptional cases, not much is being done in Nigeria by way of planning for or thinking of the welfare and health of old people."