“Join everyone in a five-pronged program for the safety of the elders”


Issuing a press release on the elders day, the State Ministry of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and Covid Disease Control states that Covid – 19 is an era of global turmoil due to the epidemic, it is noteworthy that International Elderly Day falls at a time when policy intervention is urgently needed to raise awareness of the special needs of the elderly, taking into account the high risks posed by the spread of the epidemic.

The people around the world are suffering from the Covid 19 epidemic and it is no secret that its greatest negative impact is on our older generation. The majority of those who die from the Covid epidemic are adults. It is more than 90%, according to the World Health Organization.

Research has shown so far that an older person is three time more likely to die due to a Covid-19 infection compared to a young person. Therefore, rescuing the elderly during the Covid epidemic is a challenge we face at the moment. To this end, the government has expedited vaccination process and accelerated the vaccination of age over 60 people. At present, 8806 adults living in 349 elderly care homes in Sri Lanka have been vaccinated.

At the same time, we have a duty to secure the freedom, protection and self-esteem of the adult community. Just as we can never count the sacrifices they made during their lives, it is undeniable that their service has contributed to some improvement in the country economically, socially, culturally and environmentally. Acknowledging their contributions with gratitude is the highest honor that can be given to them.

Around the world, the aging population is steadily increasing. This is due to the decrease in fertility and the increase in life expectancy. The elderly population is also increasing in our country. According to the Census on Population and Housing (2012), 12.4% of the population are over the age of 60 in Sri Lanka. It also predicts that by 2050, the adult population will increase upto 30% of the total population.

Despite the high life expectancy in the country, the growing elderly population of the country has to face many health problems. Adults are particularly vulnerable to non-communicable diseases. Social problems such as loneliness, lack of dignity, difficulty in living independently, financial instability, as well as lack of adequate social security have also contributed to the deteriorating health of the elderly. I urge all of you to join the five-pronged process to safeguard them as a nation, as a society, as a citizen, and as a loved one of the elderly, as it is timely to make a number of policy decisions to address those health issues. Those are,

  1. Implementation of the National Elderly Health Policy
  2. Empowerment of Elderly Law
  3. Securing cyber security and ethics for adults in the digital world
  4. Accountability for the elders’ rights as a society
  5. Encouraging a program to preserve the elders in the family

The National Elderly Health Policy reflects the Government’s commitment to provide an integrated Elderly Health Service covering all sectors. It will also have a positive impact on achieving the country’s development goals.

Adults need legal protection against various forms of abuse, insecurity, and discrimination in adulthood. The National Elders’ Secretariat and the Council of Elders have been established and empowered by the Protection of the Rights of the Elderly Act No. 9 of 2000 and the Amendment of the Protection of the Rights of the Elderly Act No. 5 of 2011, which have the potential to act on the welfare and protection of the elderly but have the power to go beyond that which is a timely necessity.

The theme of this year’s United Nations Elders’ Day is Digital Equity for All Ages. As we live in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is characterized by rapid digital innovation, we have a role to play in adult cyber security. Cybercrime and misinformation threaten the human rights, privacy and security of adults. The pace of adoption of digital technology has surpassed policy and governance at the national, regional and global levels. Attempts should be made to address these challenges to minimize the risks.

I believe that the most important challenge facing you and us at the moment is to create a society that meets the needs of the adult community and their rights. Accountability as a society can be identified as the best solution to achieve that goal.

Elders are our heritage. Although it is difficult to maintain human relations in a complex society, there is a national need to formulate a policy framework that is adequate to address the social issues that arise from it. What really needs to happen is to create an environment where a group of healthy adults can grow within the family.

On World Elderly Day, it should be reminded that it is the need of the hour to unite for a common cause that protects the welfare, security, interests and rights of the elderly, leaving aside the trauma or sighs of the tragic situation faced by the elderly in the face of the global epidemic.