As part of the celebration of the United Nations World Older people Day, the Coalition of Caregivers and Advocates for the Elderly in Liberia (COCAEL), yesterday began the first national aging conference at the S. Trowen Nagbe United Methodist Church (UMC) in Sinkor, Monrovia.
The day is set aside by the United Nations to recognize the contributions made by older people towards the development of their countries and will be celebrated under the theme, “Sustainability and Age Inclusiveness in the Urban Environment.”
According to a statement issued and signed by Pastor Aaron Paul, Secretary General of COCAEL, the conference will bring together an array of government officials, including members from the international community, civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations as panelists.
Pastor Paul noted that by 2050, Liberia will experience 40 percent increase in older population.
“This increase in our country,” he said, “will have a major influence on Liberia’s public health and economic system.”
He further indicated that it is therefore imperative for actors, including government and non-governmental organizations, to understand the determinants of unstable and undeveloped infrastructures that would not enable older people to have much needed access to health, social services, and among others.
He said Liberia is in the most opportune position to start developing infrastructures and policies that would optimize opportunities for health, participation and security, enhancing the quality of life for the over 170,000 older people in the society.
It is against this background that, he said COCAEL is hosting the first national aging conference and the celebration of the UN World Older People Day.
“We believe the conference is a strategic step in the right direction in opening up the discussion about the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population, along with being a knowledge exchange platform on what would be the best practices and policies to comprehensively address the plight of older people in Liberia,” he concluded.
COCAEL, is an umbrella organization seeking the welfare of older people in Liberia, emerged in August out of the health crisis created by the Ebola virus disease to compliment the efforts of the Liberian government.
The group comprises of 16 registered agencies that are providing services to older people living in residential facilities (old folk’s homes) and other environments.
Meanwhile President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has by Proclamation declared today Thursday, October 1, as “United Nations World Older People Day” to be observed throughout Liberia as a working holiday.
The observance is in recognition of issues affecting the elderly and to appreciate the contributions they have made to society in the areas of Education, Medicine, Economic, Science and Technology, Social Services, History and Preservation of Cultural Heritage.