Church leads World Health Day Celebration in Liberia

The United Methodist Church’s Ministry to the Aging led a group of caregiver organizations and advocates for the elderly in observing World Health Day by emphasizing care for diabetics.

The Coalition of Caregivers and Advocates for the Elderly in Liberia celebrated World Health Day on April 7 with the themes: “Diabetes: Scale up Preventives; Strengthen Care; and Enhance Surveillance” and “Aging Healthily, a Right for Older People in Liberia.” The coalition is led by The United Methodist Church’s Ministry to the Aging.

Backed by the World Health Organization in Liberia, the coalition is conducting a month of free screenings for multiple diseases in senior citizens of Liberia. Seniors were screened for diabetes on the day of the celebration and are now visiting various centers. Those who don’t know where to get treatment or screenings can go to the denomination’s Ministry for the Aging office and staff there will recommend clinics and hospitals that are offering the checkups and subsequent treatment.

The Rev. Anna Kpaan, now head of the coalition, said the group fills the gap of the national health system, which does not have plans for senior citizens.

“Old folks, especially those with disabilities, are abandoned by our weak health system and even family members,” the United Methodist clergywoman said.

Health needs of the elderly

Celebrating World Health Day was a way of calling government attention to the needs of its senior citizens, especially their heath needs, she said.

She also noted that the creation of the coalition was intended to link its members to international partners in order to fight the extreme poverty and financial challenges senior citizens are facing in Liberia when it comes to meeting their health needs.

Yanquoi Kargbo, registrar general of the Liberia Medical Dental Council, said in a keynote address at the celebration that the government free health care delivery service plan is not reaching its targeted population. The policy of the health care delivery service needs to be reviewed so that it benefits the senior citizens of the country, he said.

“This kind of policy such as the free health care delivery system does not need to depend on donors,” Kargbo asserted.

He also said the government needs to redesign its health plan so that senior citizens will be treated free at clinics and hospitals.

Samuel Slewion, a consultant to the coalition, said the caregiver group was creating public awareness about global health issues, especially those issues that affect the lives of senior citizens.

“We are celebrating this day in partnership with WHO Liberia so that we will bring their attention to the dire health situation of our senior citizen,” he said.

The program, held in the St. Peter Lutheran Church in Monrovia, was attended by WHO representatives and other Liberian government officials.

Swen is a communicator in Liberia.

News media contact: Vicki Brown, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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