There are more than 77 million elderly people in India. This number is 17 million more than the entire population of UK. While increased life expectancy should be counted as a major success, the fact is that in India, 30% of elderly live below the poverty line, and another 33% just marginally over it. A little over 90% of older persons are from the unorganized sector, with no social security at the age of 60. A long life should be everybody’s right, but for older people the capacity to meet basic needs is increasingly compromised by age.
In early 2005, a group of senior medical professionals came together to form Center for Old in Need (COiN), a non-profit charitable NGO based in Kolkata. COiN is dedicated to health promotion, health maintenance and disease prevention among the elderly population. COiN team has major contributions in the field of capacity building in epidemiology, disease surveillance, prevention and control. With a strong leadership at the helm, COiN is working closely with existing health and community organizations to monitor health, detect and investigate health problems of the elderly, raise public health awareness, and develop and advocate sound public health policies.
We are often asked why COiN is focusing the health aspect of the elderly population. All in all, priority issues among older people are: poverty and lack of income-earning opportunities, lack of access to care and healthcare, and social, economic and political exclusion. Poverty, poor health and exclusion are inherently linked. Poverty is a cause of exclusion, and ongoing exclusion from information, services, and opportunities increases vulnerability and therefore poverty. A lifetime of poverty results in poor health, and also greatly limits access to medicine and care, thus contributing to continuing poor health. Poor health in turn limits older people’s ability to earn money, thereby trapping them in a vicious cycle. At COiN, we believe that healthy people make for a healthier world. Of the top 10 diseases that are prevalent among the elderly population in India - hypertension, cataract, osteoarthritis, lung diseases such as asthma and bronchitis, heart disease, diabetes, prostate enlargement, indigestion, constipation and depression - several are manageable with moderate amounts of medication, lifestyle changes and care.
Founders and members of COiN have long experience in implementing strategies to address medical problems for large groups ranging from a few hundred people to nation wide populations. This experience is now being focused on the problems of elderly people in our communities. Some of the ongoing projects at COiN include weekly health clinics, camps, and awareness programmes.
Our Mission: Healthier People in a Healthier World
Center for Old in Need is dedicated to health promotion, health maintenance and disease prevention among the elderly population. COiN team has made major contributions in the field of capacity building in epidemiology, disease surveillance, prevention and control. This experience in now focused on solving the health problems of older people in our communities.
Our goal is to have healthier elderly people in our communities. To achieve this, the center has several ongoing projects. In the short term, we are organizing regular clinics, and camps. At the clinics, volunteer doctors administer to the patients, routine investigations are performed, medicines, prescriptions and referrals are given to patients completely free of charge. COiN is also working closely with existing health and community organizations to monitor health, detect and investigate health problems of the elderly, raise public health awareness, and develop and advocate sound public health policies.
As part of our ongoing efforts, we have several awareness programmes e.g., diabetes, hypertension, and vector borne diseases such as dengue. Besides making the information available on our website, we also publish material in local languages and distribute it at our clinics and camps. We also seek help of local businesses such as banks and schools for dissemination of this information. Furthermore, the best and most up-to-date health information is made accessible to grassroot workers and NGOs via technical and educational material, extension lectures, group discussions, training courses, seminars and workshops.