COVID-19: Advocacy body calls for greater attention for elderly

There should be tailored interventions to protect the elderly from the novel coronavirus, a local organisation striving for the welfare of the elderly has warned.

Elie Mugabowishema, Founder and President of the body called Nsindagiza told The New Times that older people who suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes among others are not able to move to health facilities during this COVID-19 induced lockdown when the operation of public passenger transport is restricted.

 

The lockdown was initially to last two weeks but this was on Wednesday extended for another two weeks and will go on until April 19.

 

“Yet, those people need regular health care and medication in order to control their health conditions,” he said.

 

He also pointed out that vulnerable elders in communities need food support, which some of them are not getting.

“Local leaders and community health workers should be trained on how to better help needy elderly in the communities so that they get needed support,” he said.

Observing social or physical distancing – over at least one meter between a person and another as recommended by the World Health Organization – is an important means to prevent the spread of the viral disease – COVID-19.

However, Mugabowishema said that implementing such a recommendation is sometimes challenging because very weak older people need care from a close caregiver which poses a risk of contracting the disease.

To address the problem, he suggested that caregivers get trained on how to handle such an issue, and get protective gear in order to save lives.

Moreover, he expressed that mostly older people cannot afford to own television, do not have access to electricity or smartphones so that they get information on COVID-19 prevention through the mainstream information channels.  

Elderly most at-risk

According to the US’ Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 can result in severe disease, including hospitalization, admission to an intensive care unit, and death, especially among older adults.

Everyone can take action, such as social distancing, to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect older adults from severe illness.

Others are people of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions, severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher), diabetes, chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis, and liver disease.

Early data from China suggest that a majority of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) deaths have occurred among adults aged 60 years and above and among persons with serious underlying health conditions.

CDC showed that the first preliminary description of outcomes among patients with COVID-19 in the United States indicates that fatality was highest in persons aged 85 and above, ranging from 10 percent to 27 percent, followed by 3 percent to 11 percent among persons aged 65–84 years, 1 percent to 3 percent among persons aged 55-64 years, and less than 1 percent among persons aged 20–54 years, and no fatalities among persons aged 19 years.

In Rwanda, 82 COVID-19 cases were confirmed as of April 1, with no death; while globally, more than 930,000 cases of COVID-19 and 47,000 deaths resulting from it had been recorded.

entirenganya@newtimesrwanda.com

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