Members of Parliament want the social assistance grant for the elderly to be increased to cater for their increasing needs.
The legislators made this call following a statement by the Minister of State for Elderly Affairs, Dominic Gidudu Mafwabi on the International Day for the Elderly.
The Deputy Speaker, Anita Among who led the call said that there is need to provide free health care for the older persons who she said suffer from many ailments.
“Many elders especially the men are suffering silently from prostate cancer. We need health services to be provided to them for free because they cannot afford them,” she said.
Among added the elderly need to be included in several government initiatives.
“They should be included in all government initiatives like Emyooga and the Parish model. For the SAGE programme, why can’t we increase that money? The money should also be paid promptly,” she added.
The Chairperson of the Health Committee, Charles Ayume expressed concern about the status of health services to the elderly in Uganda.
“I would like to know what strategic plan is there to have the elderly access free health service care. We should note that we are all heading there so let us prepare early,” he said.
Kajara County MP, Michael Timuzigu said that there is need to provide security for the elderly who are in dire need.
“As we celebrate the day of the elderly, in Masaka, they are being picked on and killed by the bijambiya men while others are dying at the hands of their children because of land wrangles,” he said.
Milton Muwuma, MP Kigulu County South said it is important to reflect on the package provided for in SAGE programme.
“The package being given is very eliminative and discriminative as far as the age bracket is concerned. In a full sub-county, there are very few people aged 80. The age should be revised downwards to consider people from 65 years,” he said.
Kyegegwa District Woman Representative, Flavia Kabahenda said the SAGE monies for the elderly in her area were in arrears for six months with muted communication from the Finance Ministry.
“The current budget for the financial year 2021/ 2022 was inadequate by shs36 billion. The Minister for Finance promised to present a supplementary budget which would enable payment of the arrears but this has not happened. When will the elderly be paid their dues?” she asked.
Bukooli Central MP, Solomon Silwanyi said that the money offered under the SAGE programme is not enough for the elderly.
“The elderly are our grandparents and parents and the money given to them as SAGE package is demeaning. Their vulnerability at old age is too much because they have issues with security and health yet this money cannot support them,” he said.
Silwanyi added that most elders walk for long distances to pick the money, adding that, ‘why can’t the money be delivered to them? Why do they make them walk all the way?’.
Mafwabi said that the celebrations will be held on Friday, 01 October 2021 under the theme ‘Digital access for all ages: a tool for inclusive development’.
He added that there have been several achievements since this day was first marked in the country.
“The elderly requested for representation in Parliament and as we speak we have five representatives. Another achievement has been the increase of the Social Assistance Grant for the Elderly (SAGE) money from shs62.88 billion in 2020/2021 to shs120.7 billion in 2021/2022 to cover over 340,000 older persons,” Mafwabi said.