PETALING JAYA: The government and NGOs involved with senior citizens have to work together to come up with a common platform so that the elderly can have greater support on issues like social and financial security and access to healthcare.
Malaysia Healthy Ageing Society (MHAS) president Shahrul Bahyah Kamaruzzaman said what is needed is a cohesive platform to allow the government and stakeholders such as NGOs and the community to support the elderly.
The platform should include a sustainable and strategic plan to address issues such as rights of seniors, social and financial security, and better access to healthcare.
“NGOs and the government already work together to provide basic needs, financial support and or tax filing assistance. A convergence of these various avenues into a unified platform would be welcome extensions of the existing infrastructure,” she said.
In honour of International Day of Older Persons today, Shahrul said MHAS looked forward to lending its support to NGOs to develop a cohesive platform for the elderly.
Malaysia will have an ageing population by 2030, she said, adding that the government should be prepared for the coming hurdles.
Shahrul, a geriatrician at Universiti Malaya, added that many of the elderly live alone, and some may have financial constraints that could worsen their living conditions.
“I believe stakeholders should work together to mobilise a platform to assist the B40 and M40 groups, in particular,” she said.
She said for instance, community health centres, residents and senior citizens’ associations in Damansara Jaya, Taman Tun Dr Ismail and SS20 have empowered the elderly in their communities by providing transport and food, and helping them to get vaccinated.
“We should consider the different requirements and priorities of an older person, so having an effective community hub across these different residential areas would be a good start.”
One of the best efforts so far, she said, were initiatives launched recently by the Taiping municipal council to make the city elderly-friendly.
Previously, Perak housing, local government and tourism committee chairman Nolee Ashilin Mohamed Radzi said special plans for Taiping’s elderly would include various developments in lake gardens, heritage sites and markets.
In 2019, Taiping was chosen to participate in the first phase of a pilot project based on the World Health Organization’s ‘Age-Friendly City Guide’ to make urban areas conducive to the elderly.