Damascus, SANA- Only one governmental nursing home and 24 civil society associations is what remains for the elderly in Syria after seven years of the terrorist war against it.
Many vows have been made for opening a nursing home for the homeless elderly and community centers for day-care and activities.
On the International Day of Older Persons, which falls on the first of October, the elderly in Syria need a friendly environment in terms of urban planning, health care , places of social activities and others.
Head of the Social Services at the Social Affairs Ministry, Misaa Midani told SANA that the elderly is not the largest group among the population in Syria, but the circumstances of the terrorist war multiplied their needs as a result of youth migration, the absence of breadwinners and the displacement of families.
She pointed out that the most of care centers for the elderly have been destroyed and went out of service due to terrorist attacks. Now, there is only one governmental nursing home for the elderly: Dar al-Karama in Damascus, where 87 elderly people are living, in addition to 24 civil society associations specialized in their needs and services.
The Ministry of Social Affairs, in cooperation with the Syrian Commission for Family and Population Affairs, has developed a strategy for the elderly care, which was launched in 2017 through a national plan in a number of areas, including training programs to help the elderly through training volunteers in civil society associations or through courses in the ministry’s vocational guidance center, in addition to seeking to activate the file of health insurance for retired elderly.
She pointed out that the Ministry has equipped a section at the house of beggars and displaced persons in al-Kaswa area in Damascus Countryside with the aim of turning it into a nursing home of the elderly, to be opened during the current month.
According to Midani, the Ministry works through civil society associations to provide aid for the elderly registered with the associations or the ministry through free grants provided by international non-governmental organizations, pointing out that the economic sanctions on Syria affected the provision of these supplies directly.
For his part, Chairman of the Syrian Commission for Family and Population Affairs Akram al-Qash said that the proportion of older persons over the age of 60 years is more than 6 percent of the population in Syria, and this number is expected to rise to 10 percent in 2025.
He stressed on the need to develop legislations and laws related to the elderly in order to meet their needs in a wider manner and in line with the current reality, while working to establish a friendly environment for the elderly in terms of urban planning as well as paying attention to the health situation by allocating a hospital for the elderly.
He added that the Commission seeks to establish a project that includes the provision of services for all members of the family under the name of “Family House”, which caring for the elderly is one of its goals.
In 1990, the United Nations set the first of October to be the International Day for Older Persons to raise awareness about the problems facing them and celebrate their achievements.
According to WHO statistics, by 2050, the elderly will be over 20% of the world’s population, which requires plans to meet their needs.
Manar al-Frieh/Manal Esmael