Physical access to clinics and hospitals, a lack of awareness of health conditions and social care needs in old age, or prejudice, are all barriers faced by older people seeking health care.
Patterns of health and disease are changing. The rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), once seen as only a challenge for the “rich” world, is affecting all societies, including those in Southern Africa. The challenges of physical and mental frailty are also growing with increasing longevity. In Southern African countries this means that the extra burden of NCDs is added to the existing diseases of poverty in old age. More people in Southern Africa living with HIV are also accessing anti-retroviral therapy and thus increasing numbers to live into older age with the virus.
Access to affordable and efficient healthcare is a crucial challenge in Southern Africa. Physical access to clinics and hospitals, a lack of awareness of health conditions and social care needs in old age, or prejudice, are all barriers faced by older people seeking health care. Health services should be age friendly and respond to the changing care needs of older women and men as they age . This includes the availability of medicine, resourced health strategies, and health care workers that are trained and prepared to address gerontology.
Resources and case studies on this page cover the need, gaps and best practices regarding ensuring the right of older women and men to the best attainable health, nutrition and care services, enabling them to enjoy the best possible health and care, supporting wellbeing right through to the end of life.