(c) Jeff Williams/HelpAge International
By Ben Small
Tanzania’s incoming government is opening a new ministry focusing on the welfare of the country’s older men and women – a fantastic achievement for those advocating for the rights of older people.
The Ministry of Health, Social Development, Gender, Older People and Children will deal with ageing issues alongside health, social development, gender and children, reflecting how older people are getting more and more on the political agenda in Tanzania.
It gives the government the opportunity to adapt and prepare for a growing ageing population and will help ensure older people can lead longer, healthier and more comfortable lives.
Pensions are set to be introduced in Zanzibar next year for those aged 70 and over, and there are pushes for this to be extended to mainland Tanzania. With a specific ministry to appreciate the needs of older people, the government has an effective channel through which to follow up on its commitments.
Amleset Tewodros, Tanzania Country Director at HelpAge International, believes that meeting the needs of Tanzania’s older population through the new ministry is crucial to the Sustainable Development Goals’ refrain of “leave no one behind”.
“No development strategies can be achieved if older men and women, who constitute 5% of the total population, are not proactively recognised in planning and budgeting, and are not enjoying effective public services,” she said.
HelpAge welcomes the move by the Tanzania government, and hopes that the continued engagement with older people’s issues will bear concrete results, including a national policy on ageing and a binding legal framework to ensure policies and strategies related to ageing are implemented.