Ghana has produced her first locally trained Geriatrician at the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons in Accra.
Geriatricians are primary care doctors who have additional training and experience in treating older adults, especially those 65 and above, and often have multiple or complex health matters.
Dr Lenusia Ahlijah, the first locally trained Geriatrician, said as a pioneer Geriatrician trained by the Ghana College of Physicians, it was quite challenging because she had to embark on the journey on a modular basis.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the 19th Annual General and Scientific Meeting of the College, she said during the journey, she had had to actively provide services at the Tema General Hospital and made herself available for training at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital twice or thrice every week.
Dr Ahlijah said, “I have come to realise that our older persons, persons above 60 years, according to W.H.O although are actively contributing to the development of our nation, most times, their needs are sometimes marginalised, as far as resources are concerned.”
“Quite a number of times, the older persons are not thought of when it comes to planning for development, providing resources for their health, and as of now, older persons between 60 and 69 years were still paying for health care services themselves,” she reiterated.
Dr Ahlijah indicated that health care to the elderly was rewarding, such that, as they interact with the elderly and take care of their needs, they also advocate for them, leading to improving their quality lives.
She added that the college had also started training Geriatricians to offer medical care and advocacy for older persons.
Dr Ahlijah noted that most older persons were diagnosed with chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, arthritis and having to deal with mental issues, saying “but you will find no one around them to offer help to them with excuses of work and others.”
She advised the citizenry to take the elderly into consideration when tiling their various homes and make them elderly-friendly to protect them from accidents and other health issues.
She called on authorities to put health care delivery into the curricula of the training institutions for nurses, midwives and other health training centres as well as equip them with some basic care knowledge on Geriatrics.
Dr Ahlijah also appealed to policy makers to prioritise caregiving to the elderly to ensure a comfortable life for them.
“I would want to encourage various doctors and other family physicians who would love to take care of older persons to get into the fight and join forces so that we can make life for our older persons comfortable,” she said.