Abu Dhabi: The Federal National Council (FNC) on Wednesday passed a draft law on the welfare of senior citizens in the UAE to ensure their dignity and their access to social justice.
The draft law includes penalties amounting to fines and imprisonment for those who insult or neglect senior citizens.
The bill, which requires a final signature by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to make it law, stipulates that penalties will not be limited to the perpetrators of these acts of shame, but will include those who see or hear of any abuse of senior citizens without reporting the incident to competent authorities.
There are about 25,000 elderly people in the UAE that the Ministry of Community and Development actively communicates with and gives financial and community support to, according to Hessa Bu Humaid, Minister of Community Development.
The draft law includes 23 articles dealing with the right to independence and privacy; the right to protection; the right to work, education and an enabling environment; as well as provisions on social and health care and provisions on confidentiality and preferential treatment.
The bill also aims to ensure that senior citizens enjoy services related to their rights, are empowered to actively participate in society, and contribute to the development and design of policies related to them.
Special care by institutions
The draft law obliges institutions to provide special care for this category, each according to its specialisation, starting with the provision of full health insurance to them, through the allocation of places to gather and meet away from the homes of care and health centres, and finally the delivery of all the services they need to their homes.
The draft law provides for regulations in favour of those who care for senior citizens, whether children, spouses or brothers, either by granting them exemptions for leaving the office at times when senior citizens need assistance, or the provision of financial support if they need it, thus ensuring that they care for their parents and senior citizens.
In October, the Cabinet issued a countrywide policy to protect the rights of senior citizens, offering them health insurance and greater social inclusion.
The National Policy for Senior Emiratis aims to ensure elderly Emiratis remain active members of society and have access to the services they need.
The policy is built upon seven main components: health care, community involvement and active life, effective civic participation, infrastructure and transportation, financial stability, safety and security, and quality of life.
Initiatives including medical training for caregivers, with the provision of basic health insurance plans for senior citizens across the country being part of the components dubbed the ‘health care hub’.
Programmes to protect the elderly from abuse and violence will also be introduced. These includes training to help others detect abuse and a hotline for the elderly to use to report such cases.
There are up to 700 million people across the globe who are over the age of 60, presenting new challenges for every government.
The number of people over 65 will more than triple to 2.1 billion by 2050, according to the World Economic Forum.