Leading Elderly Advocacy Organization Honors Two Liberian Lawmakers for championing the Plights of Old People
Monrovia – The Coalition of Caregivers And Advocates for the Elderly in Liberia(COCAEL) has recognized and honored two Liberian lawmakers, Representative Richard Koon of Montserrado-Electoral District #11 and Representative Tibelrosa Summoh Tarponweh of Margibi-Electoral District #1 for their “outstanding” roles in the drafting and the subsequent passage of the “National Commission for the Elderly” bill by the Lower House of the Liberian Legislature.
Emmanuel K. Tokpah, contributing writer
The honoring of the two Liberian lawmakers followed the decision of the House of Representatives to unanimously pass a bill seeking to establish the National Commission for the Elderly in Liberia. Representative Koon drafted the bill, while Representative Tarponweh headed the Specialized Committee that properly scrutinized and submitted the bill before the House’s Plenary.
The bill provides a comprehensive and systematic framework for the promotion and protection of the rights of citizens who have attained 60 years and above, and improves the quality of life of the elderly within the Republic of Liberia.
Honoring the lawmakers on Friday, at occasion marking the observance of the United Nations International Day for the Older People, held at the Mamba Point Hotel in Monrovia, the Chairperson of the Coalition of Caregivers And Advocates for the Elderly, Reverend Anna Kpan said the two lawmakers were honored in appreciation for their diligent works in making sure the House of Representatives passed the “National Commission for the Elderly” bill.
Reverend Kpan used the occasion to reaffirm the commitment of her organization to consistently engage the Legislature so that the bill is legislated, noting that it will assist in improving the life of older people in Liberia.
“We want to assure you that we remain committed to seeing the legal establishment of this instrument as we believe that these policies embedded into this document will grow the necessary framework to improve the quality life of older people in Liberia,” she said.
“As we commemorate the International Day for the Older People today, it our hope that the Senators and the President will join the Representatives to pass into law this bill for the establishment of the National Commission for the Elderly in Liberia.”
In remark, Representative Tarponweh said, although there were some opposition to the bill by some of his colleagues who argued about increasing government spending, majority of his committee’s members supported the bill because it will restore the dignity and address the plights of the older people in the country.
Rep. Tarponweh said that Liberia, as the oldest country in Africa, must follow the path of other nations to cater to its aging population, which is universally accepted.
“On my Committee of five, there were some reluctance, not because it was not a great idea. The mechanics and the implementation of it was problematic to some. We had numerous discussions back and forth. But we made a case that Liberia is behind on many issues. We need to organize as a state to be morally responsible to institute measures to provide these services for our aging population”, Representative Tarponweh lamented.
Also speaking, Representative Koon disclosed that most of the older people in Liberia are illiterate, vulnerable and far behind technology.
“The older generation in Liberia is mostly illiterate. There is a need as a nation to ensure the need for older population. Technology provides remittances and helps get social benefits as well as store medical records. Yet, one -half of our population is off line. This bill will also help to address some of these issues”, the Montserrado County Lawmaker asserted.
The Chairperson of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights, Cllr. Dempster Brown stressed the need for a comprehensive policy that will mandate the Government to provide housing and Medicare for the elderly.
In attendance also were representatives from the United Nations Development Program, United Nations Women and the World Health Organization, among others.