Speakers at a roundtable yesterday called upon the government, non-government organisations, and other institutions to implement the National Policy on Older Persons-2013 to make the country "elderly-friendly".
Emphasising the need for a change in attitude towards the elderly, they said elderly people deserve respect and care because of their contribution to both the society and family.
According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, 12.8 million people of the country are elderly and by 2025 the number is estimated to be 17.2 million.
The roundtable on implementation of National Policy on Older Persons-2013 was organised by Forum for the Rights of the Elderly (FRE) in Cirdap Auditorium in the capital. The policy recognises people over the age of 60 as elderly.
Professor of Geriatric Medicine at MH Somorita Medical College Hospital Dr Samnun F Taha gave a presentation regarding the policy's implementation. He suggested short, middle and long-term plans to address different problems such as health and nutritional, residential and transportation. Taha said hospitals should have separate counters and at least 10 percent reserve seats for elderly persons. He urged both government and private hospitals to give elderly persons a 50 percent discount on medicine and healthcare services.
Iori Kato, deputy representative of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said the increase in life expectancy is an achievement to be celebrated, but the country should also pay attention to medical treatment, nursing and residence problems of elderly people.
Manzurul Ahsan Bulbul, CEO of ETV, suggested not being too dependent on the government for services for the elderly.
"Getting on and off buses is one of the major issues for the elderly. We have a strong transport union; if they are approached with the issue I believe they will address it," he said.
Lawmakers Nazmul Haque Pradhan and Selina Jahan Lita, Secretary to the Social Welfare Ministry Tariq-ul-Islam, and President of FRE Dr KM Rashid, among others, addressed the programme.