Governance & Communications Officer at Age International
As the pandemic rages on around the globe, the poorest and most marginalised older people still need our help.
COVID-19 has affected older people around the world, but especially those already living in fragile circumstances. In a global crisis, often the poorest and most disadvantaged older people are forgotten. Whilst the UK is getting closer to its goal of vaccinating the population, India is unlikely to be the last country we see struggling to cope with a devastating second wave and a shortage of vaccines.
Providing factual information and guidance
Since the global pandemic was announced in March 2020, Age International has helped to protect older people in over 30 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Often older people end up relying on hearsay about the pandemic, particularly if they can’t read, see, or hear well, or if information is only distributed from a central location or via digital means. We have reached over 1.2 million older people with clear, factual information on COVID-19 and how best to protect themselves.
Lockdowns accelerating hardship
In some countries, lacking pensions or other forms of social welfare, the lockdowns have hindered many from earning money to feed themselves and their families. Lockdowns intended to prevent the spread of the virus in fact marked a period of isolation, loneliness, and severe hardship for many older people.
We’ve been providing practical support to thousands of older people to not only help them prevent the virus spreading but to help them survive these periods of deprivation, from delivering clean water and food parcels to distributing hygiene kits of soap and personal protective equipment and providing home care visits and emotional support.
Lockdowns marked a period of isolation, loneliness, and severe hardship for many older people.
Supporting health systems
Health systems in many places are already weak or over-stretched, so rising infection rates can threaten to overwhelm them. With India struggling to cope with a surge in COVID-19 cases, we stepped up our response to provide life-saving medical equipment for hospitals and health teams, including desperately needed oxygen concentrators. We reached out to older people in rural and deprived areas to help them access health services and vaccinations.
With many countries still lacking access to vaccines, the pandemic will continue to spread around the globe. We must continue to help the most vulnerable including older people and ensure they get the help they need so we can all one day be safe.