GlobalHealthAfrica

Archive for the ‘Elderly’ Category

Quality of Life for Elders: Lessons from South Africa and Bolivia

In Elderly, Health Policies, Healthcare on November 10, 2013 at 5:45 am

Last month, the Global AgeWatch Index issued a report on the quality of life of older people in 91 nations. The report included several factors such as income security, health and well-being, employment and education. African nations did not fare well. South Africa was the highest ranked African nation at number 65 while Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria, Malawi, Rwanda and Tanzania came in at numbers 69, 81, 85, 86, 87 and 90 respectively. Other African nations were not included in the report because there was not sufficient data. With South Africa leading the pack in elderly well-being, it helps to decipher the various ways it deals with its senior citizens.
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In addition to having the largest and most developed economy in Africa, the old age pension reaches 72% of the older population in South Africa. South Africa’s pension system is the second most distributed of the African countries that are in the Index. Namibia is the first at a whopping 167.3% although there was not enough data in other areas to include the nation in the report. While South Africa performed moderately well in income security, they ranked low in elderly’s health status. There are only eight registered geriatric doctors to serve an older population of 4 million. Since 1994, dramatic changes have taken place in the structure of health services. The government prioritized maternal and child healthcare because of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the 90’s.

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Although South Africa was ranked at number 65, Bolivia, one of the poorest countries on the list was ranked at number 46. This shows that higher-income does not always correlate with better quality of life. In fact, some lower-income countries that invested in aging saw positive impacts. Bolivia, for instance, implemented a national plan on aging and free health care for older people, which vastly improved quality of life. The rankings illustrate that limited resources need not be a barrier to countries providing for their older citizens, that a history of progressive social welfare policies makes a difference, and that it is never too soon to prepare for population aging. This is important for other African nations because the elderly are a significant boon. As African nations, we can do better by learning from each other as well as other non-African nations. Our collective goal is to improve the elderly’s quality of life for present and future generations.

Mandela’s Health: A platform to discuss the treatment of the elderly in South Africa

In Elderly, Healthcare on July 6, 2013 at 2:11 am

This past month South Africans have been on edge. Nelson Mandela has spent four weeks in a Pretoria hospital with a recurring lung infection. While we hope that Mandela’s health improves, there are at present senior citizens who cannot afford sufficient medical care in South Africa. The situation is more problematic because advocates for the elderly state that the services for senior citizens have dramatically decreased in the last two decades.

According to Anita Powell, Southern Africa reporter for Voice of America, few among South Africa’s rapidly growing elderly population are faring well, health wise, due to economic insecurity which is linked with better health outcomes. Elderly advocates insist that Mandela is not the standard by which South Africa’s treatment of its weakest members should be judged because the nation’s growing elderly population is increasingly marginalized by a government that has focused its health care on the young. While child health is very important, the health care needs of the elderly should not be overlooked especially in a nation with only eight registered geriatric doctors (International Longevity Center-South Africa). This video portrays the work of the Ikaheng Daycare Centre for the Aged in the South African Township of Ikaheng.

Fighting Elder Abuse in Angola

In Elder Abuse, Elderly on December 1, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Two weeks ago, we wrote about elderly abuse in Africa. This time, we want to congratulate the Ministry of Welfare and Social Reintegration on tackling elder abuse in Angola.

In Luena Angola, the Minister of Welfare and Social Reintegration, João Baptista Kussumua, recently opened an elderly shelter home. The goal of the shelter home is to provide greater protection and psychosocial assistance to the elderly, especially those that are in family abandonment situations. According to the Minister, the initiative will contribute to the elder’s social and economic conditions and thus retrieve the respect to people submitted to various abuses.

This initiative will help to decrease the incidence of elderly street begging that results from the elderly leaving their homes due to elder abuse. In addition, the elder’s quality of life will be improved. Our hope is that old age homes will increase and elder abuse can be confronted. Check out Villa Sunfield Old Age Home and Frail Care Facility in Durban, South Africa.

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Adapting to Meet the Health Needs of Elderly with Dementia

In Dementia, Elderly, Mental Health on October 5, 2012 at 6:31 am

One of the main health challenges for the elderly in Africa are non-communicable diseases such as dementia, but current health systems are not designed to meet such chronic care needs. Dementia is set to become a major problem for African countries. The World Alzheimer report 2011, from Alzheimer’s Disease International, estimated that by 2050 the number of people living with dementia would rise from 36 million to 115 million. The proportion living in low- and middle-income countries would rise from 58% to 71%, and African countries are part of the list.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), health systems in Africa, need to adapt to meet the chronic care needs of the elderly as the shift to aging populations gathers pace in low- and middle-income countries in the world. As populations age rapidly, infrastructure must be put in place to address the needs of elderly with dementia.

 

Africa’s Elderly Faces New Crisis

In Elderly on September 10, 2012 at 11:19 pm

As Africa’s population grows, so does the number of older people. Traditionally, extended families have taken care of elderly members but that’s now changing, meaning aging Africans are facing new problems. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that around 50 million people above the age of 60 account for around five percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population. In the past, most of them turned to their families for help but that practice is becoming less widespread.

Unfortunately, convincing people that the elderly in Africa are in need of help is no easy task. Even development policy debates tend to marginalize issues related to the elderly. One example is The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that focuses only on women and children. Despite these issues, we should not give up hope because the elderly need our help. This video highlights the current situation in Zimbabwe:

Culled from Deutsche Welle

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