HelpAge International predicts that by 2050 nearly 1 in 5 people in the developing world will be over 60 years old. And while the fact that people are living longer is is something to celebrate, it is crucial that healthcare is developed to meet this growing and changing demand.
As is true in many countries around the world, a focus on prevention and treatment of communicable diseases means that treatment and management of chronic conditions is neglected, despite evidence that such chronic conditions account for a large proportion of death among older people.
According to a report from HelpAge International, there are several other factors that prevent older people from accessing appropriate healthcare in the developing world, including travel times and associated costs, and limited or restricted access to health insurance.
With an aging population, there is also an associated increase in demand for palliative care, as Kate highlights: “The rising needs of older persons in the developing world, and particularly in Africa, are inescapably linked to an increase demand for palliative care and hospice services. Unfortunately, these services often do not make the national healthcare agenda. Older persons in nations that do have institutions specialising in palliative care and hospice, often still lack access to them because of poverty.”
The problem of inadequate healthcare must be tackled at the national and community level. National policies need to focus on the needs of older people, while local services need to provide care and support closer to home.
Kate’s full article, which includes information on the work of HelpAge Ghana, can be accessed in the African edition of ehospice.