PESHAWAR – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Social Welfare, Women Empowerment and Special Education, Sitara Ayaz announced to initiate the process of legislation for rights of senior citizens in the province.

She was speaking at a seminar in Peshawar organised by HelpAge International on rights of senior citizens in Pakistan. She emphasised that legislation brings a roadmap for all departments and once the policy or bill for rights of senior citizens get approved by the parliament the government and other stakeholders can work for implementation. The minister highlighted that older people are given respect but due to different situations, miseries in lives of older people have increased and there is a need to face this challenge well before time in the shape of legislation.

She assured that with the support of HelpAge International and other stakeholders, government of KPK would be the first provincial assembly in Pakistan to present and approve the legislation for the rights of older people.

Older people are largest growing population in the world. Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world having 6.8 per cent population of older people; this figure will rise to 15.8 per cent by 2050. Older people are facing a number of problems including discrimination, health, poverty and protection of rights, this vulnerability of Older People becomes double in disaster situations, said Waqas A Qureshi from HelpAge International at the occasion.

A senior citizen bill is pending in the parliament since 2007, the approval of this important bill should be initiated by government, said Qureshi.

Dr Amjad Khan emphasised on provision of Age friendly primary health care at health institutions, IDP camps and during emergency situations.

He added that older people have special needs in terms of food, health and accessibility of other services, this should be addressed by government, humanitarian and development organisations and other stakeholders.