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Utilization of social security schemes for elderly ‘very low’ in Odisha

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Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Sep 2:

Utilization of the three national social security schemes – Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS), Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS) and Annapurna Scheme – provided to elderly persons has been very low in Odisha, a report on the ‘Status of Elderly in Odisha’ prepared by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has revealed.

Photo: Biswaranjan Mishra
Photo: Biswaranjan Mishra

The UNFPA report, the first of its kind for the elderly, was released by Usha Devi, Odisha’s Women and Child Development, Planning and Coordination Minister at Hotel May Fair here today.

A dissemination seminar was also organized by the UNFPA state branch on the status of elderly persons in Odisha revealing some startling facts about senior citizens in the state.

The survey says utilization of IGNWPS is the highest at 50 per cent, followed by 22 percent for IGNOAPS and less than 1 per cent for Annapurna Scheme, although awareness about these schemes is high.

Th elderly are aware of other plans and schemes like Madhu Babu Pension Yojana, programme for care of older persons, national family benefit scheme, day care centres and emergency feeding. But implementation of these schemes has been less than satisfactory with the benefits reaching people in remote areas of the state more than in urban areas, it added.

Highlighting the findings from the report, Sanjay Kumar, National Program Officer of UNFPA said due to less utilization of these Central and State government schemes among elderly, about 50 per cent of Odisha’s elderly men continue to work in their old age due to economic compulsion and only 20 per cent are found to be working out of choice.

Dr Deepa Prasad, State programme coordinator of UNFPA, said the report was made after 9852 elderly were interviewed on different aspects of their livelihood covering seven states like Odisha, Kerela, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal.

The survey was undertaken by UNFPA, India in collaboration with three well known institutions: Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore, Institute of Economic Growth (IEG), Delhi and Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

Regarding the health status of the elderly, the report says around half of them in Odisha are suffering from chronic morbidity, arthritis and hypertension. Diabetes and heart ailments are more common among the urban elderly, the report said, adding that a majority of the elderly availed public health facilities for treatment.

10 per cent of the elderly experienced abuse which is higher among elderly women and it is sad to note that most of the abuse is inflicted by family member,s particularly the sons, it added.

Complimenting the UNFPA’s efforts to assess the status of the elderly in Odisha, the Minister said efforts are on by her Government to provide 100 per cent team work among all stakeholders in providing all medical, residential care and financial assistance through major social security schemes and plans.

Dr Nalinikanta Das, special secretary of State’s Health and Family Welfare department said 10-bedded geriatric wards are already functioning at Nuapada, Malkangiri and Nabarangpur districts separately and in Koraput and Balangir in an integrated manner. Very soon geriatric wards and physiotherapy units will be opened in other 10 district headquarter hospitals and block community health centre (CHC) like Ganjam, Khurda, Cuttack, Puri, Mayurbhanj, Rayagada, Sambalpur, Sundargarh, Kandhamal and Angul.