Lilongwe (Malawi) : The Conclusion of the International Conference on Old People in Africa: the debate and the proposals
The work of the International Conference "Ageing in Africa: Sensitizing the Nations" held on 2 and 3 June in Lilongwe, Malawi,have ended. The initiative, the first of its kind in Africa, has generated great interest in the mass media, which have widely reported the event.
During the four sessions of the conference interntional and Malawian speakers alternated with moments of debate. The discussion focused on how to improve the lives of older people in Africa.
The interventions provided some insight on: the growing number of older people in Africa, the difficult living conditions of people who, in most cases, are no longer able to work, not receiving a pension and often do not even have enough food for live. The number of people living alone, many of which are also caring for grandchildren orphaned by AIDS is growing. There are also frequent incidents of violence against the elderly.
The service to the old people of the Community of Sant'Egidio in Africa, with its insistence on the special bond of friendship between young people and older people generated great interest in the participants.
During the work the desire to create a model of care that can meet the needs of the weakest has clearly emerged. The benefits of home care (developed in some European countries) compared to the widespread trend to institutionalization has been widely enphasized.
In addition, the conference drew up a charter of rights of the elderly, which states the need to ensure the home care and assistance necessary for a dignified life.
At the conclusion of the conference, the participants agreed to repeat the initiative next year to continue working together, Africans and Europeans, on the future of the elderly.