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Elderly neglected for financial inability
Source: The Daily Star, 18 November 2013;

Unable to contribute financially, the elderly in Bangladesh are facing neglect in forms of socio-economic insecurity, poor financial support, deprivation from healthcare facilities and exclusion from decision making roles, states a new study revealed yesterday.

The study “Impact of Social and Income Security for Older People at Household Level”, conducted by Human Development Research Centre (HDRC) with support of HelpAge International, was revealed at a seminar in the capital’s Biam.

Presenting the report, economist Prof Abul Barkat said Bangladesh’s average life expectancy at present was around 70 years while the number of elderly people (aged above 60 years) in 2011 was 9.77 million and would rise to 44.10 million in 2051.

The study was conducted among 200 male and female old age allowance recipients aged 71.5 years on an average from four upazilas — Tangail’s Nagarpur, Chuadanga’s Damurhuda, Gaibandha’s Phulchhari and Moulvibazar’s Borolekha — between December 30, 2012 and July 30, 2013.

It said employers gave low wages to the elderly, who, due to their physical condition, can work only 10 to 15 days a month.

Older people cannot take proper medical treatment as they always prioritise illnesses of younger household members while their income is not sufficient to meet the medical expenses, it said.

The average income of an elderly male in Chuadanga is Tk 3,242 and in Tangail is Tk 2,252, says the study, adding that decisions of the elderly were often not taken into account in families and societies.
“We did not find a single person who was receiving allowance and simultaneously taking decisions in village arbitration,” said Prof Barkat, also the study’s team leader and HDRC’s chief adviser.

Too few of the eligible poor and elderly people were getting government allowance since 1998. “It only covered around 2.48 million of the elderly in 2011-12, while the government should provide for around 7 million,” said  Barkat.

He recommended increasing the monthly allowance to Tk 1,000 from the present Tk 300 and adjusting it with inflation.

About 3,25,000 (2.1 percent of the total number of the elderly of 2012-13) retired government employees received pension in that fiscal year, he added.

Addressing as chief guest, National Human Rights Commission Chairman Dr Mizanur Rahman said such state of the elderly goes against the commitment of ensuring equal rights for all.

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