Executive President of the Cameroonian Association for the Welfare
of Older Persons
Interview of Paulette Metang
Conducted by Anne-Lise Stiehr and Valentine Honoré
Civil Society Forum
February 6, 2007
1/ Could you tell us a little bit more about the
intergenerational link in Africa?
How do your organize your work of maintaining links between generations?
We see a two sided exchange between old and young people. Each is a
master of their concerns. On one hand, older people are the tradition
protectors of crafts and their production. By teaching their knowledge
of manual work to the young, older people help the young start up their
own work while keeping in mind traditional values. On the other hand,
young persons can make the elderly aware of new technologies and help
them adapt to the “new world”.
2/ Is it still true that in Africa older persons are a respected
group of people, that younger generations are still listening and
respecting older people?
In the main, older persons are still respected in Africa. In fact, they
are viewed as the keepers of the traditions. For example, older women
teach young girls how to raise a family.
3/ How are older persons affected by HIV/AIDS?
We can deal this issue in two ways: first, older persons are directly
threatened by HIV/AIDS, especially in the polygamist sphere. They are
also confronted with HIV/AIDS in terms of care-giving. In fact, older
persons have taken on many new responsibilities by caring for their
grand children who are orphaned by the pandemic.
4/ Is aging a new challenge in Africa?
The aging challenge is quite recent on our continent. The government and
its department of Social Affairs, tackles the issue. Beside the
government, I see civil society in Cameroon playing a major role. That’s
why today I am here at the Commission on Social Development to represent
Cameroon. I also want to promote a report I wrote on behalf of the Civil
Society Organization. I’ve been required to publish it to show the MIPAA
(Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing) follow-up and its
implementation in my country.
5/ By the way, is Cameroon very committed in the implementation of
the Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging?
I actually emphasize certain points in my report: the need for laws to
recognize and regulate the informal sector. Some hospitals provide free
treatments to the elderly, or at least at a reduced rate. I am
particularly committed to ending elderly abuse. I refer to the United
Nations principles from 1991.
6/ To what extent has the Global Action on Aging website helped you to
write this report? And generally in your work and commitment?
I appreciate the organization of the GAA website. I learn about elderly
issues reading the weekly newsletter. It also informs me on elder rights
and how to defend them. For example, I am personally involved against
violence facing older people. In writing my report, I found out about
MIPAA thanks to the “Aging Watch at the UN” section.
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