CHR to gov’t: Reconsider policy prohibiting elderly to go out

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Monday urged the government to reconsider its GCQ policy that prohibits the elderly to go out of their homes.

CHR said those 60 years old and above is a “heterogeneous group,” It also said the level of risk that they could acquire the virus depends on different factors such as socio-economic conditions, physical health, dependency on care, and living arrangements.

“A policy solely based on old age runs the risk of disproportionately discriminating older people who need to go outside their homes for essential activities, including work and the procurement of basic goods and services, and those who live alone or with other older family members,” said Karen Gomez Dumpit, Focal Commissioner on Aging and the Rights of Older Persons.

“We need a human rights- and evidence-based approach to dealing with this crisis, which takes into consideration the diversity of the needs of older people in different situations,” he added.

The CHR commissioner recommended to just discourage the elderly from going out and not prohibit them under the GCQ rules. This he said would respect the senior citizens’ autonomy in making decisions and at the same time, protecting them against the “punitive aspects” of quarantine enforcement.

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A University of the Philippines study said there are around 5.5 million Filipinos aged 60 and above who are at high risk of getting infected with the virus.

“Of the estimated 9.5 million Filipinos age 60 and above, 5.5 million have existing high-risk conditions, higher among women and among the rich segment of the population,” the study read.

According to the data on April 17, 31% of infected patients are senior citizens, or at least 60 years old.

Dr. Maria Elizabeth Mercado of UST also said elderly people are “at highest risk of dying” from COVID-19.

This is consistent with local data. “If we look at the data from DOH, the age group with the highest proportion of death in individuals with infection is elderly, which is consistent with the data released by researchers in China,” Mercado said.

As of this posting, there have been 7,958 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country. Five hundred thirty have died, while 975 have recovered.