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India gets ready for first healthcare centre for the aged

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PM Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone of National Centre for Ageing at the AIIMS in New Delhi today. Another centre is coming up in Chennai.

New Delhi: As the government looks to meet the needs of India’s growing older population, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone of the National Centre for Ageing (NCA) at the premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi Friday.

The NCA is the central government’s first concrete step towards breaking the myths around ageing.

“Our absolute number in elderly population is next to China and more than three times of America. The NCA will help the elderly of our country attain active and productive ageing,” Dr Prasun Chatterjee, professor of geriatric medicine, AIIMS, told The Print.

The objectives of the NCA include providing evidence-based clinical service for older patients by trained health professionals and develop management guidelines for the whole country relevant in the Indian context.

Healthcare for elderly

The NCA will provide multi-specialty healthcare with 200 general ward beds, 20 ICU medical beds, 10 pre-operative beds, 10 post-operative beds and 15 post-operative ICU beds. In addition, there will be 20 paid ward beds.

“The objective here is to develop an outreach programme to provide care to un-reached, immobile and bed-bound older patients in the community. It will also create public awareness regarding carrying health and well-being into late life through life course approach of active ageing,” said Chatterjee.

The centre will also create research manpower by initiating doctoral and post-doctoral courses in Biological and Social Gerontology.

“The NCA looks at building a health service manpower in various areas of old age health care by initiating postgraduate courses in Geriatric Medicine, Geriatric Surgery, Geriatric Anesthesiology, Geriatric Psychiatry, Geriatric Nursing and Geriatric Rehabilitation,” Chatterjee added.

He also said the strategy of managing elderly is not restricted to hospital care but home care and rehabilitation. “Diseases like dementia are the future epidemic and it’s worse than cancer as the entire family gets affected. Thus, this initiative is large scale,” said Chatterjee.

The Hospital Services Consultancy Corp. Ltd (HSCC) was awarded the project on 31 January, and is expected to be completed by January 2020.

Need for ageing centre

The Elderly in India 2016 report by the ministry of statistics said there are nearly 104 million elderly persons (aged 60 years or above) in India — 53 million females and 51 million males — as per Population Census 2011.

The size of the elderly population increased to 10.38 crore (8.6 per cent of the population) in 2011, compared to 7.66 crore (5.6 per cent) in 2001.

The report said 71 per cent of elderly population resides in villages while 29 per cent is in cities. It also underlined that the prevalence of heart diseases among the elderly population was much higher in urban areas than in rural parts. The most common disability among the aged persons was locomotor disability and visual disability as per Census 2011, the report added.

Under the National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly (NPHCE), the establishment of two National Centres for Ageing — one at AIIMS, New Delhi and the other at Madras Medical College, Chennai — was announced. The programme will also see support establishment of regional geriatrics centres in 8 selected medical institutions across the country.

The Chennai centre is also in progress, ahead of the AIIMS project.

Chatterjee said that while there has been awareness about the pediatrics, the geriatrics has remained an “untouched” subject. “The UN says in 2050, the proportion of pediatrics and geriatrics will be same. It is time we gear up for a robust mechanism to manage our elderly who can be as productive.”

The government of India adopted the National Policy on Older Persons in 1999. Translating the mandate of the policy into action, the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act was enacted in 2007.

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