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Empowering Older Persons in Nigeria and Promoting Population Ageing Awareness in the MENA Region

In this blog, Dr Amara Frances Chizoba, Director of Mission to Elderlies Foundation in Nigeria, presents the Mission’s vision and the critical work being carried out. She also highlights the connections of such work to the MENARAH Network’s ambition to raise awareness about population ageing in the MENA region and surrounding areas.

The Changing Face of Africa and its Implications for Older Persons:

The demographic landscape of Africa is rapidly evolving. Its ageing population projected to increase from under 50 million to nearly 200 million people over 60 by 2050. This unprecedented shift has far-reaching implications for society, healthcare systems, and individuals’ social and economic lives. The Mission to Elderlies Foundation recognises the significance of this demographic change. It aims to bridge the impending gaps through its dedicated team of medical and non-medical professionals.

Objectives and Approaches:

The foundation has set clear objectives to address older persons’ needs comprehensively. These objectives include making healthcare and non-healthcare services accessible, affordable, and acceptable. Accomplishing this through community setups, health facilities, home-based services, and enrolment in health insurance schemes. The foundation also champions advocacies, galvanising policies, and managing geriatric and ageing programs through local and international collaborations. Additionally, it aims to provide psychosocial, legal, economic, and nutritional support to older persons while actively preventing elder abuse and promoting safety.

By conducting advocacy campaigns, the Mission strives for inclusion and action to protect the rights of older persons. Program design and implementation address the holistic needs of older persons in health, safety, psychosocial well-being, and economic empowerment. The foundation also researches to contribute to the knowledge base on ageing and utilises training programs to enhance the capacity of healthcare workers and community volunteers.

Services and Achievements:

The Mission to Elderlies Foundation provides a wide range of services to address the specific domains of health, psychosocial support, safety, and economic empowerment for older persons. In the healthy domain, community-based geriatric services raise awareness, prevent ageism and elder abuse, and encourage care and support for older persons within their communities. Hospital-based and institutionalised aged services are also supported to establish healthy ageing clinics, specialist centres, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.

In the psychosocial domain, the foundation offers psychological and spiritual counselling, support groups, and caregiver forums to improve interactions and combat loneliness among older persons. The safety domain focuses on identifying and intervening in cases of gender-based violence and advocating for legal matters related to older persons. In the economic domain, the foundation assesses the economic vulnerability of older persons and provides support through income-generating activities and financial literacy programs. Trained home aids and case managers within the community also offer home-based services and interventions.

The foundation has achieved significant milestones in its Mission. It has reached eight communities with community mobilisation, intervention programs, and awareness creation for the rights and care of older persons. It has supported the establishment of six healthy ageing clinics and trained 54 service providers and community volunteers on geriatric conditions and care. Additionally, the foundation has supported older persons with nutrition intervention, enrolled them in health insurance coverage, and provided psychological and legal services. Its impact is evident in improved mental health outcomes, successful interventions against gender-based violence, and economic empowerment initiatives.

Partnerships and Funding:

The Mission to Elderlies Foundation collaborates with various stakeholders to fulfil its Mission. Cooperation with organisations and corporate social responsibility initiatives from companies such as Renewal Nigeria and Miami Intercontinental Ventures provides crucial funding for community-based projects, training of home aids, and case managers. International partnerships, like the one with Greenacre Home Healthcare Services Inc. in the United States, have supported establishing and sustaining healthy ageing clinics, including training, work tools, and sponsorship of health insurance coverage for older persons.

The foundation also generates revenue through annual subscriptions and contributions from its board and members. Community philanthropists play a role in sponsoring psychosocial events, support groups, and caregivers’ forums. Furthermore, the foundation seeks additional local and international partnerships and funding opportunities to expand its reach and impact.

Connection to the MENARAH Network:

The Mission to Elderlies Foundation’s efforts aligns with the MENARAH network’s ambition to promote awareness of population ageing in the MENA region and surrounding areas. By addressing the needs of older persons in Nigeria, the foundation exemplifies similar initiatives in the MENA region. Its focus on providing accessible healthcare services, advocating for rights, and implementing geriatric programs demonstrates the practical steps required to support the elderly population effectively.

The foundation contributes to the global discourse on population ageing through collaborations and partnerships, sharing best practices and lessons learned. By collaborating with the MENARAH Network, the foundation can leverage its expertise and experiences to engage with like-minded organisations, researchers, and policymakers. The MENARAH Network provides a platform for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and collective action to tackle the challenges of population ageing in the MENA region and beyond.

Watch the Nigerian National Television Coverage of the Mission to Elderlies Foundation.

Dr. Amara Frances Chizoba
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Dr Amara Frances Chizoba is a health specialist with ageing programming and research expertise. With a decade of experience, she collaborated with organizations like CDC and US PEPFAR, leading HIV, TB, and Orphan and Vulnerable Children programs in Nigeria. Driven by her passion for the rights of older persons in Africa, she retired from her executive position in HIV programming to establish the Mission to Elderlies Foundation. As its Director, she ensures accessible and affordable healthcare for older persons in Nigeria. Recognized for her contributions to global health, she has received leadership awards and is a reviewer and speaker at national and international conferences. Dr Chizoba's policy expertise includes contributions to global health documents for WHO and the United Nations. Holding certificates in Nursing, an MPH, and a PhD in public health specializing in gerontology, she aims to expand partnerships, achieve organizational goals, deliver training, and maximize capacity-building opportunities in ageing and public health.