úThe NHIS prescribes the same basic health care without taking into consideration the tertiary healthcare needs of older people especially in the area of non-communicable diseases such as retention of urine, incontinence prostrate and colon cancers,Ě he said.
HelpAge Ghana has therefore called on health authorities to institute appropriate policies and programmes to address the critical issues confronting the aged such as poor access to healthcare.
Mr Ameyibor made this known when members of HelpAge Ghana called on Dr Ebenezer Appiah Denkyira, Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to outline some of the challenges the aged in Ghana are going through in accessing healthcare.
He noted that though the United Nations defined older people as those at 60 years and above, the NHIS pegs the age of exemption from the payment of premium to 70 years and above.
úMany old people, especially the non Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) pension scheme are unable to access health careĚ.
He said despite the fact that there is ample demographic evidence suggesting Ghanaôs population is ageing at an alarming rate; GHS is yet to either train or incorporate geriatrics as a specialised area of healthcare in the health delivery system.
He said the absence of specialised training in geriatrics for health workers has most times resulted in tension between older people and health workers.
He said, some health workers described medical conditions of older people who visit health facilities as ėold ageô even though old age is not a disease.
úSelf reports indicate that older people sometimes suffer inconveniences and embarrassment as a result of this wrong perception which mainly points to inadequate human capacity in dealing with the health situations of older people,Ě he said.
Mr Ameyibor recommended that geriatrics be mainstreamed into the syllabi of Health Training Institutions to expose health workers to appreciate health needs of the aged as well as provide quality healthcare services to older people.
He also called for an expansion of the Community Health Nursing to include house-to-house health information services and treatment for older people at homes, especially those who are bed-ridden.
HelpAge has also suggested that GHS should disaggregate health data of the aged to include those within the 60 years and above bracket.
Mr Ameyibor said the age of exemption from the payment of premium should be reduced from 70 years to 60 years to improve the enrolment of non-SSNIT pensioners on the scheme.
Dr Denkyira said it is imperative that older people are treated well by health practitioners at the various health centres.
He promised to institute special training for doctors, pharmacists and nurses on special treatment of the aged.
HelpAge Ghana is a non-governmental, non-religious and non-profit making organisation, established in 1988 to promote the prospects of older persons in the Ghanaian society.
It is a member of HelpAge International which is based in London, United Kingdom and part of global network of age care organisations.