JEDDAH: The Saudi Cabinet has approved a law to protect the rights of elderly citizens in the Kingdom.
In April, members of the Saudi Shoura Council passed a draft of the 21-article bill which aims to raise awareness on the issue, promote well-being, and establish appropriate community care for the country’s older generation.
One of the articles included in the law ratified by ministers prohibits the sending of an elderly citizen to a residential social care facility without their consent, in line with their right to live with family.
Duha Al-Ibrahim, board member at the Saudi Human Rights Commission, told Arab News: “Saudi Arabia has made every effort to provide a decent living for its citizens, and has allocated the necessary care to groups in society, including the elderly.
“Institutions, ministries, and public bodies provide adequate health services in this category and provide comprehensive healthcare for all the elderly.”
The focus of attention in protecting the rights of the elderly will be placed on the condition standards of social care facilities, service provision, and available activities. Lists of care homes will also be put in place along with a program to encourage volunteer activities in elderly care centers, public, commercial, and residential locations, and mosques.
According to a UN report, those aged 65 and over made up around 3.4 percent of Saudi Arabia’s population, a figure it predicted could reach 6 percent by 2030.
“Within the same framework, the Human Rights Commission is working with government agencies, the private sector, and civil society to raise awareness on the importance of the rights of the elderly through several activities, programs, and events organized in this regard,” Al-Ibrahim added.
In addition, ministers hope that under the terms of the law new statistical information will be generated through studies and research to help develop initiatives to benefit the elderly.
The Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development already provides free assistance to the elderly, and two articles of the newly approved law exempt the group from paying fees or charges.