Covid 19 : Save the Coastal Elderly
Covid 19 pandemic is affecting almost all the genre of the society of recent. The elderly population is facing the highest risk among other age groups in facing the pandemic. Older adults are at a significantly increased risk of severe disease following infection from COVID-19. This is a very important observation for the European Region: of the top 30 countries with the largest percentage of older people over 95% of these deaths occurred in those older than 60 years. More than 50% of all deaths were people aged 80 years or older. We also know from reports that 8 out of 10 deaths are occurring in individuals with at least one underlying co-morbidity, in particular those with cardiovascular diseases/hypertension and diabetes, but also with a range of other chronic underlying conditions. Some of the reasons why older people are greatly impacted by COVID-19 include the physiological changes associated with ageing, decreased immune function and multi - morbidity which expose older adults to be more susceptible to the infection itself and make them more likely to suffer severely from COVID-19 disease and more serious complications.
In Bangladesh the elderly people are facing a major threat in recent Covid 19 pandemic. Their normal life style is terribly affected by the rapid spread of this virus nation- wide in an alarming rate. Especially the situation is very alarming in the coastal areas of the country like Bhola, Coxsbazar, Lakhkhipur, Borguna and Patuakhali. Being situated in a comparatively low-income areas and being majority part based on agriculture, fishing – the elderly population of these locations are at maximum risk in covid 19 due to poor awareness systems and available resources at community level.
If we look at the recent development and strategy in fighting against covid 19, it is very sad to observe that there are no special steps/strategy for safeguarding the elderly in the country. various reports show that most of the elderly are leading a very miserable life at this moment due to shortage of basic food staffs and other necessary supplies now. Poor economic condition is making the situation worse for them right now. Moreover, very and in some cases no aids/ supports for these vast majority of elderly man and women in the coastal locations of Bangladesh.
- Lack of proper awareness and counselling at the coastal districts on covid 19.
- Lack of emergency testing facilities due to geographically vulnerable set up and poor health care facilities at remote locations.
- Shortage and unavailability of masks, PPE , hand sanitizer and other protective equipment in the remote coastal areas.
- Low per capita income and poor financial stability
- Lack of local and national level funding/grants focusing particularly the safeguarding of the elderly during the exiting pandemic.
- Poor motivation and respect and care giving for the elderly at community level.
Recommendations for Safeguarding the Elderly:
supporting and protecting older people living alone in the community is the highest steps that we can take in this crisis.
- Mental and physiological support should be provided at family level to the elderly parents.
- Digital and online based counselling, advice may be introduced where feasible.
- Providing basic food staffs to the poor elderly at the coastal zone.
- Introducing one-time seed money for the emergency livelihood management.
- Primary health care systems should be introduced at community level in collaboration with Upazilla health complex.
- Special unit should be inaugurated in the upazilla health complex for minimizing the sufferings of the elderly.
- District level Elderly Safeguarding Committee can be formed by the combination of public and private partnerships
- National and international level charity and aid agencies should introduce Emergency Relief Operation and Seed money for the well-being of the coastal elderly.
- Print and electronic media can publish/telecast the updates/ special bulletins/ coverage weekly or daily basis where elderly people are facing health hazards and risks of treatment facilities to cope up with covid 19 situation.
- Local banks and corporate organizations should extend support for the coastal elderly people.
( The writer is a freelance journalist and currently working as Coordinator Programme in AMDA Bangladesh)