World’s best age-friendly practice in focus at Sharjah workshop

SHARJAH, The Executive Office for Sharjah Age Friendly City Programme, in coordination with World Health Organisation, WHO, held a workshop on the world’s best age-friendly practices on Thursday in Sharjah.

The workshop saw Anne Rizzo, Director of the Irish Age-Friendly Cities Programme, outline a series of practices and initiatives implemented in Ireland, the world’s first country to receive the title of ‘Age Friendly City’.

Asma Al Khodari, Director of the Executive Office for Sharjah Age-Friendly City Programme, asserted that according to recent WHO statistics, Sharjah is the first Arab city to have joined the WHO’s Age-Friendly Cities Programme, thanks to the directives of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to make the Emirate a comfortable place to live for all sections of the community, especially the elderly, who form the foundation of any society.

Al Khodari pointed to the special attention given to the elderly in Sharjah, where local institutions work hand in hand to develop services for older members of the society. This includes easier access to health care by launching initiatives such as the “Mobile Clinic” and “Rahma Initiative”. These initiatives, along with many others established by Sharjah’s various entities, have proven to be effective and successful in providing luxury and comfort for this age group.

Commenting on Irelands experience, Rizzo said that after ten years of sustained efforts, during which Ireland has introduced 31 programmes for the elderly, Ireland has earned the honour of being named the world’s first Age-Friendly Country.

She pointed out that the number of elderly people in Ireland are likely to double to 500,000 in 30 years, according to statistics. Rizzo went on to emphasise that initiatives that prepare society to deal with this need to be developed. Besides, the elderly must be encouraged to have a healthy and active lifestyle, she added.

Rizzo said that elderly people should be given special attention by regularly meeting with them and listening to their needs and requirements, as they have a strong voice and innovative ideas to develop the services provided to them to benefit from them in the best way possible.

She stressed the importance of innovation in the presentation of methods, initiatives and proposals that really work and help in meeting the challenges faced by the elderly, especially in matters related to housing and public transport.

The Director of the Irish Age-Friendly Cities Programme pointed out that sometimes there may emerge a communication gap with the elderly due to the age difference in addition to the fact that this category is undergoing many changes. “We have to keep pace with these changes, and come up with appropriate solutions that open the door for dialogue and discussion with them, in order to make them feel that they are an active and important part of the community in which they live,” argued Rizzo.

On this occasion, participants from various departments of the Government of Sharjah presented a number of initiatives and proposed activities that contribute to the development of services for the elderly in all sectors, in accordance with the eight-point agenda of Age-Friendly Cities Programme or the Eight Domains of Livability — Outdoor Spaces and Buildings, Transportation, Housing, Social Participation, Respect and Social Inclusion, Civic Participation and Employment, Communication and Information, and Community and Health Services.

Source: Emirates News Agency