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Ageing with a Smile Initiative

Supporting the elderly to lead healthier and dignified lives

Concept Paper

Ageing with a Smile Initiative (ASI) is a new and innovative drive launched in
The Gambia in January 2010 by the Hon. Minister of Health and Social
Welfare, Dr Abubacarr Gaye. The initiative aims to improve the health and
general welfare of the elderly people in the country.

In traditional Gambian society, elderly

people have always been adequately
cared for by family members, neighbours
and the wider community. Changes in our
life styles explained by a number of factors
including growing economic problems are
forcing individuals and families to be more
concerned about their own development
rather than caring for and supporting
others. This situation is putting the lives of
many disadvantaged elderly people in
misery as they are neglected, living
without adequate care and in some cases suffer in silence.

It has been documented in some parts of Africa that with minimum support and care,
the lives of these people can be changed in a positive way thus allowing them to live
more dignified and fulfilling lives. The elderly have contributed significantly towards
the socio-economic development of the country and deserve to be treated with dignity
and respect.

In The Gambia, the elders represent a significant part of the population. They face an
increasing burden of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, arthritis,
cardiovascular problems and failing eyesight. Despite their multiple health problems,
there is no organization with a particular focus on their welfare.

This initiative, which is based on helping the elderly at their homes and communities,
is being piloted in the Greater Banjul Area in partnership with government institutions,
the private sector and some NGOs. The outcome of the pilot phase will be shared with
a wide range of stakeholders including government, NGOs and community members
at a seminar before it is rolled out to other communities in the country.

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Aims and Objectives

1. Improve access to basic health care

services to disadvantaged elderly people
in The Gambia

2. Promote the re-integration of the elderly

in Gambian social life

3. Promote inter generational dialogue

4. Advocate for the rights of the elderly in

The Gambia.

Key intervention Areas

1. Provision of routine health check 5. Provision of opportunities for the

ups for the elderly at home elderly to meet and interact
covering blood pressure, blood (socialize) with their peers and
sugar, eye care, hearing, dental, also enjoy daily life.
health and nutrition, musculo-
skeletal problems, etc. 6. Provision of rehabilitative services
for elderly people – such as those
2. Promotion of personal hygiene recovering from stroke, and
and basic sanitation for the diabetes.
elderly (provision of portable
water supply, laundry, appropriate 7. Conducting training and
clothing, etc). sensitisation sessions for the
family members of elderly people
3. Preventing the spread of on how to support the elderly.
common diseases like malaria
and tuberculosis among the 8. Advocate for the provision of
elderly and facilitate treatment essential services for the elderly
services for such diseases. by the government, NGOs and the
private sector.
4. Revival of positive traditional
roles of the elderly in Gambian 9. Conducting research on the
social life – such as story telling, situation of the elderly in The
riddles, jokes and knitting. Gambia.

For more information please visit our website:|
Tel: (+220) 650 30 45/ 399 3045/ 994 48 37/ 798 09 20

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