Older persons in Hoima have singled out health and safety for their property as key issues that those seeking to represent them in parliament must address.
The call comes as government responded to their special needs amidst their growing number which is projected to be grow to 1.6 million by 2020 according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.
Such a rise in number has seen the cabinet approve five new members of parliament to represent older persons in the 11th parliament. The move is seen as a ray of hope for the older persons in Hoima presumed to be over a thousand basing on the number of older persons that receive sage funds.
William Galimaka an 83yr old resident of Kyakamese says his work rate has reduced because of sight problems.
“The sight challenge I have can’t allow me work for more than 30 minutes in the garden because I can cut myself with a hoe if am not careful and if I work less, that means I will also have little to eat,” he said.
But even with the little energy left, Galimaka sells food or his hard-earned coffee to raise money to treat his 80-year-old wife who is suffering from hypertension.
“I walk close to five kilo meters to go to the nearest health center in Mparangasi to get medication for my self and wife. But you find the health centers too don’t have drugs. I resorted to buying from private doctors who bring the drugs closer to us,” he said.
This father of 12, has hopes in the newly created positions for older persons in parliament only if their elected leaders can lobby for better health services that address the needs of senior citizens.
“Since we now have five positions in parliament, those who we shall elect have to put first our health and if possible, advocate that older persons also have sections in the hospitals where they are treated separately and have special doctors like it is for children,” he said.
For other older persons whose predicament differs from that of Galimaka, their plight is about the security of their property and welfare. These say the property they have painfully worked for, has turned out to be an invitation for death once their hair transitions from black to grey.
“Once we grow old, our own children some times kill us greedy for our property and at other times our relatives. So, policies protecting our property should be thought about by those eyeing to occupy the five new sites in parliament, ” said Lutigard Tibihwa, a 79 year-old.
A 2014 national housing and population census report showed that older persons had increased to 1,430,000 from 1,101,103 in 2002. The Uganda bureau of statistics also projected that the number of older persons in 2020 will reach 1.6 million.