Ageing is an issue that has troubled nations all over the world, particularly in the developing countries. Many nations have endeavored to enact policies and implement them to address the challenges that the ageing are facing in the society. There are very many changes experienced all over and every nation is making every effort to come to terms with those. The United Nations program of population funding has played a significant role in making sure that the issues of ageing are dealt with amicably. Uganda is among the developing countries that are facing challenges in the implementation of ageing policies. The challenges of the ageing population are believed to have been brought up by low rates of fertility, low mortality of the infants and an increased life survival amongst the elderly in the society.
1.2 Background information
Uganda is one of the nations that are densely populated. A dense and high population translates into an increased ageing population. According to the 2002 report of the Ugandan population and housing census, the population of the aged was 1.1 million. The results of the recent 2005/06 population and household review showed that the figures had risen to 1.2 million. This rise in the population structure has intense outcomes on societal and nationwide level. The change in the population age structure demands for civic strategy involvement to convey sufficient health conditions, earnings safety and shield from deficiency. The narrowed instance for the government’s chance to obtain benefit from the reliance ratio, where the younger population is a little higher than the aged, has resulted in delayed action.
1.3 Rationale of the study
Ageing population is a subject that has been of great concern to many nations of the world. A lot of progress has been made by developing countries concerning ageing issues. While there has been a significant step in implementing policies that benefit the aging population, some countries like Uganda have not been in a position to have well established policies that define and address these challenges.
1.4 Research aim
The basic aim of conducting this research is to discuss the reasons as to why the nation of Uganda has faced challenges in implementing policies targeting the aging population.
1.5 Objectives of the study
To effectively tackle the topic of study, this research is governed by the following objectives:
- To define the ageing population and its role in the society
- To discuss the level of policy implementation by Uganda in comparison to other nations concerning the ageing population
- To discuss the challenges faced by Uganda in implementing aging policies
- To describe the current development of aging policies in Uganda
- To propose improvement on policy on the aging population in Uganda implementation
1.6 Research questions
Research questions are the main tools which are often used to give the purpose and direction for the study. The research questions used to give direction to the study are as follows:
- How has aging policies been handled in developed and developing nations?
- How has the aging policy implementation faired in developing countries, in Uganda specifically?
- What challenges does Uganda face in aging policy implementation?
- How can the challenges of aging policy implementation be addressed?
1.7 Study hypothesis
The results of this study are anticipated to concur with at least one of the hypothesis postulated based on the objectives of the study. On the need of proper implementation of aging policies, the following postulations were made:
- Proper implementation of the aging policies in developing countries like Uganda is capable of transforming the lives of the elderly in the society.
- The challenges that Uganda is facing in the implementation of aging policies can be addressed with good government structures and organization.
- Aging policy implementation varies with different settings
1.8 Problem statement
Caring for the ageing population is a very important element in today’s society. It cannot be overlooked. While the matter is weighty, there have been minimal efforts in the implementation of ageing policies in Uganda. Such a scenario prompts a need to conduct a research that will be used to make informed solutions to the issues the ageing population in Uganda is facing. This study is significant in highlighting the manner in which Uganda has lagged behind in implementing aging policies and structures.
2.1 Literature review
The ageing people in Uganda play an important role in the state due to immense input to the country’s wealth, giving aid to children and especially HIV/AIDS orphans, creating communal unity and resolving conflicts in their societies and the state at large. Uganda has a wide variety of state policy structures for tackling the needs of the aged people. The liability of the aged population lies with the department of gender, labor and communal growth (Mather 2004). The government recognizes their contributions and through the social development sector strategic investment plan (SDIP), it encourages their connection and means to get services. However, efforts to implement such policies have been futile due to a number of factors.
Due to the rise in the population structure, the Ugandan government calls for urgent aid from developing African countries to protect the older people who seem to fade away in result of the large number of challenges they come across. The economic situation of the older people also affects the implementation of the national policies (HelpAge International 2003). This is brought about by the fact that a greater number of the aged people live in the countryside, where poverty is widespread (Okuonzi & Macrae 1995). It is estimated that 85% of the active older people work on their farms with no communal security, leaving them defenseless. The situation is deteriorated by the problem of considering kids left by the adolescents who have been infected by the HIV/AIDS disease. The large number of such children has led to the slower process of policy action (Low-Beer & Stoneburner 2004). The government, however, seeks to regenerate logic of kin tasks in communities and reinforce customary types of aid.
In result of the burdens imposed on the aged population, they tend to have mental problems. Efforts to help them have not succeeded due to the few numbers of specialists’ dealing with the aged. This has led to their death, leaving their responsibilities undefined, and rise in the number of street children. Due to these large numbers, the Ugandan government has not been able to attend to their nutritional and medicinal services (Chronicles, 2010). The state thereby has called for strategic instruments like the Madrid international plan of action on ageing (MIPAA), a global policy that was adopted by the UN in 2002. The objective of this body is to provide free services to the elderly people.
HIV/AIDS has a greater impact when it infects the aged. Raising the awareness of risk of infection and the preventive measures is a concern of the national policy implementers. The concerned take a long period to reach the aged who, at many, times are directly involved in taking care of their children who succumb to HIV/AIDS, which has led to their infection without consent due to lack of knowledge on the preventive measures. Lack of kin aid has also led to the older people engaging in unprotected sex, exposing themselves to HIV/AIDS infection (Kiddugavu 2003). The government’s policy framework has for long not targeted the aged. Nevertheless, they are at a higher risk of getting infected through contact with infected individuals and piercing with contaminated devices.
The aged populations in some occasions face challenges of following doctors’ prescriptions when they visit health facilities. The policy implementers cannot be available to remind the aged on when to take medication. As a result, they end up taking the wrong prescription, resulting to further complications (Aboderin, 2005). For example, in the administration of ARVs, patients have to clearly follow the set guidelines for them to recover quickly. In case the aged do not follow the rules, it would hasten their death.
Reports indicate that efforts to reach the aged infected with HIV/AIDS have failed due to the lack of widespread complimentary health services and economic and communal aid for the aged. The health of the aged individuals deteriorates when they are unable to cover the long distances to visit health facilities (Nuwagaba-Biribonwoha et al. 2007). Their conditions worsen and most of them end up passing away, putting the children who rely on them in danger. Alternatively, the change in the population age structure of the infected has led to confusion of the policy implementers. This is because the policy implementers may not notice the abrupt change in the population; hence the wider significance of demography is left unrealized until the following session as the policy procedures are repeated.
The government of Uganda therefore has faced difficulties to hasten efforts for the policy implementers to act with immediate effect on the aged population in the countryside and not to neglect them, as they play a vital part in the social and economic level of the entire country. The aged population in Uganda has been neglected due to a number of myths that have minimized the efforts of policy implementers. The aged are believed to be witches and, therefore, many policy implementers do not reach them in fear of being bewitched (Nyanzi, 2008). Stigmatization of the aged is widespread in Uganda, a condition that has led to the minimal efforts in policy implementation. These Ugandan citizens also believe that women deserve a low communal status; hence they are not given the necessary attention by their relatives and policy implementers (Chronicles, 2010).
The aged population is also neglected due to economic myths. They are believed to be a burden and that they cannot participate in their society development (Chronicles, 2010). The government of Uganda does little in recognizing the work done by the aged individuals in its country. The state does not employ the aged and in the few cases that it does, then the aged are given little salaries with the myth that they do not have to save for the future. A larger population in Uganda survives under very little incomes, which has made it difficult for them to fulfill the requirements of the children they take care of.
A 2002 survey accomplished by the ministry of gender, labor and communal growth in Uganda showed that few aged people used water from boreholes, while 59.2% got water from other sources which were contaminated. Further reports showed that the aged would not travel for long distances in search of clean water. This contributed to their illnesses in many cases, which endangered their lives. In addition, poor environmental sanitation also contributed to their health problems, leading to death (Talley & Crews 2007). This is brought about by the known fact that the aged do not have sufficient energy to dig latrines. Pit latrines are not essential since the aged have crouching troubles.
For policy implementers to reach the aged population in the rural areas, they have to cover very long distances from the urban centre. The distance entails use of much fuel which is costly, and again to install quite a number of boreholes in those communities would cost the government a lot (Okuonzi & Macrae 1995). On top of this, the cost of a latrine also challenges the implementers, since they are entitled to many responsibilities including the most basic ones like shelter. This has hindered smooth implementation of the policies intended to aid the aged in the countryside.
Shelter has been a major problem to the aged. Majority of them use muddy, grass thatched houses, which endanger their lives, especially during the rainy season. Ugandan communities are faced with many beliefs based on inheritance. There is a common belief that women do not inherit property as they are to be married. Widows also fall in this category, as they do not acquire their husbands’ property. This, however, predicts future problems of women and their children when their families face the issue of death. With a reference to a 2006 study on gender equality, 75% of the aged populations were widows living in poverty after their property were snatched by men in their society (McGee 2000). Policy implementers have done nothing as the communal members take it as a customary way of life.
In disagreement and crisis situations, the requirements and abilities of the aged are neglected in many cases. Their capability to tolerate with crisis situations is hindered by their omission and short of knowledge since they are not involved in the general proceedings of their community. The view that the aged cannot change situations in emergency cases should be discouraged. Their involvement will benefit the entire society as they have many years of life experience. The aged individuals often do not have modern technologies that could make their living easier (Aboderin, 2005).
Deprived physical convenience puts the aged off from parting their residence to urban centers in search of advanced health facilities. Policy implementers find it hard to cope with them, since at time they have to take some of those with sight problems to larger health institutions where the required technology is available (Nyanzi, 2008). Designers and architects should formulate new methods of construction that fit all sorts of people, to make the work of policy implementers easy and for all citizens to get equal rights.
Ageing is accompanied by various habits that the most of the aged individual adopt. For instance, quite a huge number of the aged in Uganda sniff tobacco and take alcohol, habits that have caused them a number of problems. Some claim to have hearing problems, cardiovascular issues, and poor nutrition in result of misuse of drugs. The aged are believed to be weak, but when they misuse drugs, their condition worsens, hence endangering their health (Kikafunda & Lukwago 2005). The government, however, does not outlook the point of providing free health services to the aged, since some diagnosis could be very expensive and brought about by the specific individual.
Alternatively, when policy implementers teach the aged on the side effects of the mentioned drugs, most of the aged people do not take the lectures into consideration, since they are addicted to the drugs they take. This minimizes the efforts of the policy implementers, since what they teach is not put into practice. The government of Uganda has learnt enough lessons from the highlighted factors, and established policy frameworks that show a greater concern for the aged population in the entire country (Kikafunda & Lukwago, 2005).
The government of Uganda has partnered with some known organizations to aid in the suppression of poverty. A variety of national strategies has been discussed in order to save the lives of the aged in their country and to enhance their wellbeing, like the other members of the society. The SDIP in conjunction with the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) has targeted the aged people in Uganda in efforts to eradicate many problems they face. The country’s vision 2025 has a major concern on the aged population. It aims to provide security to the aged individuals (McGee, 2000). The SDIP seeks to fulfill the statements of the PEAP by encouraging their involvement and capability to get the necessary services.
Other projects of the national policy implementers include transformation of crop growing, water and ecological hygiene, teaching on key issues like protection from HIV/AIDS and knowledge on physical conditions. In an effort to ensure accurate services, the government has also provided guidelines to the policy implementers (Williams & Tumwekwase, 2001). The implementers are required to work according to the human rights. This is to ascertain that individual rights of the aged are not violated while accomplishing their responsibilities.
The policy implementers are necessitated to improve freedom which encourages lively times in their way of life (Low-Beer & Stoneburner, 2004). They are also required to give honor to the aged and shield them from mistreatment and neglect, which lessens their weakness. The law enforcers are entitled to teach the relatives of the aged how to take care of them. They also learn on how to provide service to the society and ensure that the aged are not neglected by the other members of the society. Law enforcers teach the public not to practice traditional myths when dealing with the aged, since one day they will be the same.
Studies show that a solitary government cannot meet the needs of the increasing numbers of the aged population (Aboderin, 2005; Low-Beer & Stoneburner, 2004; Nyanzi, 2008 ). This drives out the idea of partnerships with leading countries in order to provide good services to the aged. The partnerships give financial aid to the nation raising alarm. The financial support helps those in poverty and infected with HIV/AIDS (Ssengonzi, 2007). The aged are taught on the need for engaging in community activities in efforts to build a society without disapproving the efforts of certain members of the community.
The government has implemented the policy of transparency and accountability, in order to give the aged similar rights to those of the younger population. The aged are, therefore, entitled to talk about issues that affect them. Once they are taught on new issues by the policy implementers, they are to be held responsible for their actions on defiance. For instance, the aged are taught on the dangers of taking alcohol and sniffing tobacco, hence they are required to stop the practice that risks their health (Okuonzi & Macrae, 1995). To minimize the efforts in implementing the policies, the aged ought to adapt to changes with immediate effect to encourage a step forward in their well being.
There are laws governing aged in Uganda, which promote the implementation of the strategies. These laws prevent the law enforcers from skipping some populations in the community and ensuring that all aged individuals get equal services. Service providers believe that the aged population cannot perform some acts; hence they step in to do the work on their behalf. For instance, those with poor eyesight find it difficult to provide for the kids they are to care for (Oleke et al. 2006). This calls for the government to use service providers who assist the kids or take the kids to government orphanages.
The government is entitled to provide food and security to the aged. Reports have frequently shown that majority of the aged population always take carbohydrates as part of their daily diet (Okuonzi & Macrae, 1995; Ssengonzi, 2007; Talley & Crews, 2007). It is clearly defined that their bodies are weak and, therefore, need special nutrition to live longer. This has been difficult to get, a condition whereby the government has to ask for support from developed nations in order to meet the requirements of the aged. The government is also required to provide water and health facilities in the rural areas in order to reduce the long distances that the old people have to go in search of clean water. This will alternatively help the aged when health facilities are available in the remote areas where the vast majority of the aged live.