By Elias HAKIZIMANA.
At least 81 older persons in Kigali Sector of Nyarugenge district have received hand-washing facilities from NSINDAGIZA, a Rwandan NGO, promoting the rights and welfare of older persons in Rwanda, since July 2014 as a way of combating the spread of COVID-19.
Some of the elderly who are disabled also got wheelchairs that will facilitate their movement.
Vincent Karangwa in charge of Mobilization at the organization said the hygiene facilities will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and thus protecting the order persons from contaminating the coronavirus.
«The elderly people need to be well supported so as to grow up with dignity. In order to prevent COVID-19 among them , we provided them with hygiene facilities, » he said.
The facilities include hand washing facilities, soaps and hand towels.
He said advocacy continues for such order persons so that they get any support in their old age.
«For instance when lockdown started, elderly people were not considered in receiving food aid from local government since local leaders were only considering people who had lost jobs due to lockdown. However, we approached local leaders and addressed the issue, » he said.
He noted that special support is paramount for older persons.
«We also give them goats for rearing as income generating activities to help them live in better conditions,» he said.
Reports show that shielding elderly from contaminating coronavirus, feeding them well and treating those suffering from chronic diseases saves life of many after realising that the pandemic kills most of the ordler persons.
Studies suggest the severity of coronavirus rises with age. In Italy, the average age of those dying is 80, according to a study by the Italian National Institute of Health.
In China, where the pandemic started, people aged 70 and older accounted for just 12 percent of all infections but more than half of all deaths, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the United States, people aged 65 and older have thus far accounted for 31 percent of cases, 53 percent of intensive care hospitalizations and 80 percent of deaths, according to U.S. government data.
It is in this context that the organization promoting the rights of those at old age in Rwanda have begun to distribute soaps, hand washing facilities and towels to older persons in partnership with Helpage International.
Elderly people speak out
Immaculée Mukandori, the 66-year old woman is among the beneficiaries from Nyabugogo cell, Kigali sector in Nyarugenge district.
She said the hygiene equipment will help her to safely wash hands quite often in fighting covid-19.
“I am happy to get these materials, I have had a cheap washing facility made of a small jerry can but this one is safer. I will always wash hands and encourage the guests who come at home to also wash hands before doing anything else, I have got a hand washing facility with a bucket and basin, two bars of soap and a towel.” She said.
These elderly persons also need enough nutritious food.
Sylvain Karera, the 90 year old man said that he was not affording to buy such facilities.
«It was even difficult for me to get a soap but this support is timely. We also need support of enough food,» he said.
The old man who is in the first Ubudehe category, lives on small land that can’t get him enough food in Kigali sector.
Vincent Hakizimana, the Good Governance Officer in Kigali sector said that the support of hygiene materials is timely considering that most of the elderly would not afford them.
«We are in the fight against COVID-19 and this support is a needed intervention,» he said.
He added that vulnerable older persons also get support under VUP programme, direct support, Girinka programme and other social protection programmes.
The wheel-chairs which some disabled elderly received, he said, will even help them be able to move to health center to get treatment services.
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