Aging is a process. A process where one gets to transit through various life stages, ranging from childhood, adolescence, adulthood, then old age. According to the UN, a person is old when he marks a significant 65-year old. Life expectancy is increasing globally, and as a result, people live even beyond the 65-year age mark. Thanks to the improved medical care and nutritious eating that has promoted healthy living and long life. But is the African continent prepared in terms of delivering quality geriatric care services? According to a 2050 forecast, Africa is expected to record the highest number of older people globally.
Risks and challenges developing countries face in handling the healthcare needs of older people
Most countries in Africa are developing, with some being underdeveloped. A few qualify to be in the developed countries category. African countries are still struggling with poverty, conflict, environmental challenges, not to forget the low health care services offered. All these drawbacks pose a great risk to the elderly.
When it comes to income securities for the elderly, we are thankful to most African countries for considering pension plans. However, their lack of effort towards successfully implementing the proposed pension policies in various countries, if not all. Lack of comprehensive long-term care plans at the family, community, and even national level affirms the continent’s unpreparedness towards the expected demographic transition.
How is Kenya different? What particular challenges does it face?
Kenya’s old persons partake 2.4% of the total population as of the year 2019. This percentage shows a gradual increase in the community over the last decade. A legislated policy that would oversee the needs of the older people attended to managed to be drafted in 2009. The system was reviewed and aligned concerning the 2010 constitution in 2014. This gave birth to a new policy that took into account the elderly’s needs were finally in place.
Although long-term care public insurance schemes for older adults are part of the policy’s discussions, it is yet to come into play. There is also a lack of geriatric doctors specialized in elderly care. Moreover, older people who are faced with disabilities and chronic diseases are left at their doctors’ mercies. It points out the yet undelivered promises made to the elderly through the Kenyan constitution itself.
Useful lessons can Kenya learn from other countries on how to deal with older adults’ health care needs?
First and foremost, Kenya needs to invest its resources in the facilitation training of geriatric care practitioners. The skills acquired will be very proficient in helping the elderly. This will also lift a load on the families. A second hand to take care of their loved ones, especially those who have a disability.
An implementation framework needs to be quickly adopted to ensure that all the policies put in place are actualized. Kenya can further borrow ideas from its neighboring countries like South Africa, to provide sensitive and extensive health care services to the elderly. The South African government has gone to great lengths to ensure they even attend to their older persons’ personal needs.
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