NAIROBI, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Millions of elderly persons in Africa are set to benefit from a project launched in Nairobi on Wednesday to ensure they have access to quality and affordable health care services.
The Better Health for Older Persons in Africa (BHOPA) project that is funded by global charity HelpAge International will be implemented in Kenya and Mozambique in the next three years.
"We aim to make health systems more inclusive, responsive and accountable to the needs of older men and women, with a particular focus on those with chronic diseases and disabilities," said Jude Otogo, regional health program coordinator of HelpAge International.
He said the launch of a pan African initiative to boost health of senior citizens was timely as the continent grapple with pressures on healthcare infrastructure and social safety net linked to ageing.
"We hope the project will generate robust evidence in order to support advocacy, shape policies and inform program approaches. These will inform scale up and replication not just in the countries of implementation but also in Africa and globally," said Otogo.
Statistics from the UN Department of Social and Economic Affairs indicate that there were 46 million people aged 60 years and over in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015 and the figure could hit 161 million by 2050.
Policy makers and advocates said that home-grown interventions are key to ensuring elderly people in Africa are not excluded from national health programs.
Susan Mutungi, deputy director in Kenya's ministry of labor and social development, said that robust policies are key to addressing gaps in delivery of health care services to the aged population.
"The launch of Better Health for Older Persons in Africa project provides an impetus for us to realign national health policies and help meet needs of the elderly people who carry a heavy burden of diseases as well as physical and emotional infirmities," said Mutungi.
Muthoni Gichu, officer in Kenya's ministry of health, said that investments in training of health care workers coupled with home based care is key to tackle non-communicable diseases that have taken a toll on the elderly people in Sub-Saharan Africa.