PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has failed to provide senior citizen cards to around 2.8 million elderly people of the province as nearly half of them suffer from physical disabilities, according to sources.
They said that government’s failure to prepare senior citizen cards was violation of KP Senior Citizen Act, 2014, a law which provided certain privileges to the elderly people to ease their lives.
“Almost all senior citizens have been facing certain diseases and need on time and proper medical treatment, which majority of them can’t afford,” said Lal Burhan, an elderly woman from Ahmadabad village of Kheshgi in Nowshera district.
She told Dawn that sons seldom took care of their elderly parents after getting married and having their own children. Ms Burhan also runs an NGO Da Kali Gulona (flowers of the village) and works for the welfare of senior citizens.
Elderly woman says she has been visiting social welfare dept for two years but to no avail
“I have been visiting the social welfare department in connection with senior citizen card for the last two years but to no avail,” she said, adding that around 120 senior citizens were registered with her organisation.
Section 9 (1) of KP Senior Citizen Act, 2014 states: “A senior citizen may, on completion of his sixty years age, apply for the senior citizen card.”
Under the law, the elderly people having the senior citizen card are entitled to certain privileges including free entry to public museums, libraries, parks and recreation facilities; financial support in case of deserving ones; separate counters in hospitals; concession in medical and medicine charges; separate medical wards; and membership of organisation of senior citizens corps.
“However, no serious efforts have been made by the provincial government to ensure the privileges to senior citizens as per the law,” said sources.
Around 46,000 senior citizens have visited Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar for treatment during six months from January to June, according to official data.
“The data show that if 46,000 senior citizens have visited a single hospital in Peshawar, their numbers would be in million in rest of the province,” said an official.
He said that half of the senior citizens were affected by permanent disabilities for not getting proper treatment. “For instance, if an elderly person develops a problem in his eyes and is not operated upon timely then such a person becomes disabled,” he added.
The data reveals that 7,746 elderly persons visited LRH in January 2019; 7,038 in February; 8,377 in March; 9,250 in April; 5,171 in May and 5,927 in June.
“None of the privileges related to the health of senior citizens have been provided to them including financial support, establishment of separate counters in hospitals, concession in medical and medicine charges and separate medical wards,” said sources.
They said that despite notification of provincial health department, separate counters for senior citizens were set up only in LRH and Qazi Hussain Ahmed Medical Complex Nowshera.
They said that separate counters in hospitals would help the elderly people to get the slip of outpatient department without waiting in the long queue.
When asked about the government intension regarding preparation of senior citizen cards, an official of the provincial social welfare department said that consultation was in progress in that regard.
“We are thinking whether to float tender in the newspapers for making senior citizen cards or give it to the government printing press,” he said.
The official said that all facilities to be given to senior citizens would be printed on the cards. He added that government was also contemplating to provide a card to senior citizens on the pattern of Sehat Insaf Card for free treatment.
The official said that social welfare department had requested the health department to come up with a plan to provide free of cost medical facilities to senior citizens in government hospitals.
“However, health department is yet to respond,” he said.
Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2019