News / Africa

Over 76 Million Older People Lack Vital Care

HelpAge International says universal healthcare needed for millions of older people around the world. Credit: HelpAge
HelpAge International says universal healthcare needed for millions of older people around the world. Credit: HelpAge


  • Listen to DeCapua report on healthcare for the ageing

Joe DeCapua
Monday, April 7th, is World Health Day. An NGO is using the occasion to warn that 76-million older people around the world are being excluded from vital health care. HelpAge International is trying to raise awareness through its Age Demands Action campaign.
Amleset Tewodros, the group’s Country Director for Tanzania, said, “Age Demands Action is a campaign that empowers older people to directly engage with their leaders – in this particular case with the Ministry of Health officials – to demand the access to services, the health services, to be appropriate, age friendly, accessible to older people. So it gives older people an opportunity to present their demands and their requests to their relative policy and decision makers.”
She said millions of older people around the world are not getting the care they need for diseases and chronic conditions.
“There are a number of noncommunicable diseases that are showing steady growth among older population groups -- for example, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, prostate cancer and respiratory diseases.”

Amleset said that the current emphasis in healthcare is on communicable and childhood diseases. She says healthcare programs usually do not have a lifelong healthy aging approach. Lack of respect and discrimination can also be barriers to adequate health care for older people.
“Old age is associated with diseases,” she said, “So older people are not treated for the illnesses they present, but rather they’re looked at – Oh, you are old and resources are limited. Those should be directed to young people, to children. So, these are some of the constraints that are limiting older people’s access.”
In many developing countries, Amleset said, the emphasis is on building infrastructure and hospital admissions, which can be expensive. As a result, she said, less attention is paid to health promotion and prevention, especially for age-related diseases and conditions. What’s more, many healthcare workers may not be adequately trained to help older patients.
The HelpAge International official said universal healthcare would help solve many of these problems.
“Universal healthcare would help in the sense that it will provide equity in terms of access to healthcare for all population groups. If healthcare has to be paid for, a lot of these people who lack funds to pay for consultation, who lack funds for transport, who lack funds for paying for the cost of drugs are constrained by their inability to benefit or to access basic healthcare, which is fundamental for their survival.”
Amleset said that political will can overcome concerns about cost.
“We have experiences in a number of countries where we have seen positive progress, which did not require a huge investment. It is an issue of commitment and policy adjustment – making sure health policymakers, programmers do take into account the specific needs – the unique needs – of older population groups and provide appropriate, affordable and accessible healthcare. That is the message,” she said.
HelpAge International also warned the life expectancy in nearly 40 countries is either remaining static at 60 or has fallen. It said community healthcare is vital to ensure older people maintain a good quality of life.”

You May Like

Video Egyptian Journalists Call for Freedom of Press

Despite release of al-Jazeera journalists and others, Egyptian Journalist Syndicate says some remain imprisoned More

Turkey Survey Indicates Traditional Distrusts, Shift to the West

Comprehensive public opinion survey also found a large majority of those interviewed distrust all countries other than country’s neighbor, Azerbaijan More

Pakistan Court Upholds Death Sentence in Blasphemy Killing

Highest court upholds sentence of Mumtaz Qadri convicted of 2011 killing a provincial governor for criticizing country’s controversial blasphemy law More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Dr. Limle from: USA
April 08, 2014 3:13 PM

Small businesses will soon feel the vice-grip of Obamacare forcing them to pay hefty insurance costs, or cut workers hours. Meanwhile huge corporations are exempt from the “law” thanks to their lobbying power.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs