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An insightful, entertaining and impactful ADA campaign in Southern Africa

23 Oct 2013

ADA campaigners in South AfricaThis 1 October, the UN International Day of Older Persons, our Age Demands Action campaign across Southern Africa was impactful, insightful and entertaining.

In South Africa, HelpAge Affiliate's Sabona Sonke made a huge contribution to the issue of older people's eyecare.

As a result of their campaigning, the Eastern Cape Department of Health has committed to doing a second screening of all older people who were diagnosed with possible cataracts by carers and nurses from health clinics in Willowvale. Ophthalmic nurses and optometrists will do further assessments of these people and they will be booked for cataract operations at Sabona Eye Centre in October.

President Zuma on pensions

One of the successes of the ADA campaign in South Africa, has been continued campaigning for the universal older people's grant. The South Africa Older Persons Forum has worked closely with HelpAge in ensuring that this message reaches the President and the Department of Social Development, which is responsible for the care of older people.

Speaking at the annual Older Persons Luncheon, President Jacob Zuma stated that the Government's comprehensive social protection programme has reduced extreme levels of income poverty, especially among older people. He added that preparations are underway to phase out the means test for the old age grant by 2016.

The South Africa Older Persons Forum now heads the South Africa Age Network, which was established by the Department of Social Development, HelpAge and more than 50 national civil society organisations.

Events in Lesotho

In Lesotho, HelpAge's partner Help Lesotho in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development also hosted a successful ADA campaign. A crowd of about 850 people was entertained by plays, music and dancing, which featured grandmothers and grandfathers from local communities including Butha Buthe, Hlotse, Pitseng, Maseru and Thaba-Tseka.

The colourful event was attended by the Honourable Minister for Social Development, Matebatso Doti, who acknowledged that the government should be involved in improving the lives of older people. She committed to assisting older people, not only to get care and protection, but also to access public services with greater ease. The Honourable Minister of Education, Makabelo Mosothoane, stated that the government is working to "help seniors receive their ID cards as easily as possible."

Meeting the media in Zambia

Help Lesotho Country Director, Shadrack Mutembei, spoke of the vital role older people play in Lesotho including passing on history and tradition and caring for orphaned grandchildren. Speaking of the event, one grandmother said: "Today I got all the attention I used to get when I was young, I feel the energy again and I feel younger. I realised how important, respected and valued I am."

In Zambia, older people met with representatives from the media to present their demands which included the right to quality healthcare, social protection and dignity. They will also meet the Minister of Health and the First Lady to ask them to commit to these demands.

Find out more about our Age Demands Action campaign

Sign our Age Demands Action petition to support a UN convention on older people's rights.

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Author profile

Vincent Mnisi
Job title: Communications, South Africa

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.