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The Burden of Care for the Elderly in African Communities

  • Broadcast in Health
African Views

African Views


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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. Convincing people that elderly in Africa are in need of help is no easy task. The major preconception is that they live happily with their extended families, but old people with no family support have to rely on handouts from charities.


Very few countries have pension systems set up to support their aging population in Africa. Most African countries do not have meaningful publicly managed pension and social security systems, though some form of pension coverage is available in a limited number of countries. For example, universal pension systems operate in Botswana, Mauritius and Namibia, whilst a means tested public pension is available in South Africa. Social pensions also operate in Lesotho and Senegal, whilst occupation pensions are available, albeit for a limited percentage of the population, in countries such as Nigeria and Kenya. However, it should be noted that the majority of people in the region work in the informal sector and are therefore not covered by these schemes, implying that they rely on informal arrangements and their own/ family resources.


 What social schemes are available to cover pensions and health benefit for dependent aging population in African countries? What are the opportunity costs of not having adequate health care infrastructure for the elderly in African communities?