Sharjah Age-Friendly City: 17 government entities showcase 39 initiatives for the elderly

SHARJAH, The Higher Follow-Up Committee for Sharjah’s Membership in the Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities met on Thursday to take stock of the progress made after the emirate’s recognition as the first age-friendly Arab city by the World Health Organisation, WHO.

The meeting, held at the Sharjah Centre for Astronomy and Space Sciences, was attended by senior officials representing various Sharjah government institutions and departments. It reviewed the progress made in implementing the age-friendly cities criteria in Sharjah, as recommended by the Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities of the WHO.

The 17 Sharjah government entities attending the meeting showcased their successful implementation of 39 strategic initiatives and activities that they launched as part of the 2017-20 Strategic Plan making Sharjah the first age-friendly city in the Arab world.

On this occasion, the Higher Committee also reviewed the progress achieved in the second half of 2017. The statistics show that the number of successfully implemented standards jumped to 131 in December 2017, an increase of 20 percent, underlining the sincere efforts being exerted by various Sharjah government departments and institutions.

The meeting saw the launch of the “Age-Friendly Housing” initiative by the Sharjah Urban Planning Council. The move is aimed at issuing a list of age-sensitive engineering standards and requirements for the establishment and maintenance of houses. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018.

Another positive initiative themed “Age-Friendly Public Places” by the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority, SEWA, which aims to provide lighting in places frequented by the elderly and has been implemented 114 percent, also came in for praise.

The Executive Committee of the Higher Committee for Follow-up of Sharjah’s Membership in the Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities has so far held seven meetings and shared seven posts on its website as part of the efforts to supply the portal with the latest initiatives and partnerships.

As part of the initiative, “Permanent Coordination with Representatives of the Entities Concerned with the Implementation of Initiatives,” five meetings have been held and operational plans have been received from three entities to develop and improve the standards of age-friendly cities, namely the Human Resources Department, the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Sharjah Department of Suburbs and Villages Affairs.

The “Community Responsibility” initiative launched by the Sharjah Health Authority seeks to offer special benefits and discounts to people over 60 regardless of their nationality or the emirate in which they live. As part of the initiative, contracts have been signed with two hospitals, namely Zulekha and Medcare.

The Sharjah Media Corporation has produced three short films stressing the importance of respecting the elderly. As part of the Age-friendly Public Transport Initiative launched by the General Directorate of Sharjah Police, the percentage of satisfaction with the services provided by the Sharjah Police rescue vehicles to the elderly in Sharjah has touched 91.6 percent.

As part of the initiative, “Opening New Suburban Councils,” the Department of Suburb and Rural Affairs has inaugurated six new councils. Eighty percent of the “Community Responsibility” initiative by the Municipalities and Agriculture Affairs Department has been implemented and 75 percent of the “Age-Friendly Public Places.”

The percentage of criteria in need of improvement has decreased by 14.3 percent, from 75 to 48, while the percentage of unmet standards has fallen to 6.3 percent. This demonstrates the relentless efforts being made by various entities to meet the programme’s criteria.

The Higher Committee has thanked various Sharjah institutions, government departments and private entities for their efforts and fruitful cooperation towards the implementation of the strategic plan, emphasising the importance of concerted efforts to achieve the vision of Sharjah as an ideal age-friendly city.

Source: Emirates News Agency