The Covid-19 pandemic has turned the spotlight on key strengths and vulnerabilities of our country, such as the place and particular plight of older people in our society.
The 30th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) designated International Day of Older Persons, on 1 October, is an opportunity to reflect on how our country - of mainly young people - can harness the information, wisdom and expertise of older persons in our drive to strengthen our democracy and the achievement of development goals outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP).
It is also an opportunity to increase understanding of the impact of Covid-19 on older persons and its impact on healthcare policy, planning, and attitudes as we together continue to work to combat this pandemic.
South Africa's Older Persons Act, passed in 2006 and which came into operation in 2010, recognises the importance of older persons in our democracy and our development.
The 2020 observance of International Day of Older Persons is also intended to promote the World Health Organisation's Decade of Healthy Ageing (2020 to 2030) and to help bring together UN experts, civil society, government and the health professions to discuss the five strategic objectives of the Global Strategy and Action Plan on Ageing and Health.
In South Africa, those with 60 years and above have grown by 1.9 million over the past 18 years, increasing their share in the population from 7.6% to 9.1% and growing. This is one of the impact indicators of numerous interventions to support and protect the elderly, whose value is critical in confronting the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment, inequality and in fighting various sources afflicting the South African population, including crime.
The global strategy is integrated into the Sustainable Development Goals and issues about ageing cut across these goals. Goal 3, for example, aims to "ensure healthy lives and promote the well-being of all at all ages".
Our Constitution, in its preamble, also commits us all to "improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person". May we recommit to do everything in our power to help realise these noble NDP goals.