PESHAWAR, Nov22: Provincial Minister for Social Welfare, Women Empowerment and Special Education Sitara Ayaz on Thursday said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would soon legislate on the rights of senior citizens and it would be the first province in the country to do so.

She was speaking at a seminar organised by Help Age International on rights of senior citizens in Pakistan, said a news release issued here.

The minister said legislation would give a roadmap to all departments to make plan of action for protection of the senior citizens’ rights.

She said once the bill for the rights of senior citizens would approved by the assembly and enforced, then the government and other stakeholders would work together for its implementation.

Ms Sitara said the elderly people were given respect but they were in distress under certain circumstances. She said there was a need for combating the challenge by legislation.

She said with the support of Help Age International and other stakeholders, the government would be the first provincial assembly in Pakistan to see and approve the legislation for the rights of the elderly people.

The minister said Pakistan was the sixth most populous country in the world and of its population, 6.8 per cent comprised the elderly people and the number would increase to 15.8 per cent by 2050.

Waqas Qureshi of Help Age International said the elderly people faced discrimination, poor health care, poverty and denial of rights and their vulnerability doubled in disaster situations.

He regretted that a senior citizen bill had been pending with parliament since 2007 and said the government should initiate steps for the early approval of the important bill.

Dr Amjad Khan called for provision of age friendly primary health care at health institutions and IDP camps and during emergency situations.

He said the elderly people had special needs in terms of food, health and accessibility of other services and this should be addressed by the government, humanitarian and development organisations and other stakeholders at the earliest.

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