THE AGING OF AFRICA: CHALLENGES TO AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT - African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2016, pp. 1-15
Baby Boomers are the children who were born in the mid-1940s to the 1960s. Baby Boomers are now reaching an age where they are retiring and require medical attention. The number of Canadians who are aged 65 and older grew by 14.1 percent between 2006 and 2011 (The Canadian Press, 2012). Not only are the baby boomers getting older they are also living longer. Then one needs to prepare for the demand of medical care and attention that will be required.
In the case of developing countries, African countries have been aiming to have policies around an aging population ever since 1982. Where four major United Nations international policy documented that national policies should focus on the aging population in Africa to ensure that there are no human rights problems in the future. However, there is very little evidence of these policies on the ground.
Countries in Africa are still battling with issues of political organizations, wars, civil war and post-colonial self-image. Countries such as Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania have realized the correlations of economic success and human development with rapid population growth, survival of vulnerable population and inevitable increase of median age of the population. Reduction of infant mortality and improving maternal and child health has been a propriety in African countries. As childhood mortality reduces the birth rates in these countries remain high resulting in an increase in population.
Most African people believe that national governments should support for aging society however this is a political process. There needs to be agreement on fair taxes that can distribute the burden of government in supporting the population. One needs to recognize direct and indirect economic contributions.
People in developing nations depend on free services to share the burden of elder care however the developing countries are unprepared to spend on their social sector. Inadequate pensions can force retirees to find houses in urban slums where they depend on others to provide for nutrition and often are malnourished and at risk of health problems.
Douglass (2015) asks the following very important questions in relations to the aging population in Africa:
1. " How can African governments revisit national priorities (such as Millennial Development Goals) for health, economic development, the growth of the middle class, and public health with increased attention, and investment in, the aging?
2. What should developing African nations do right away? How can the nations initiate and sustain sufficiently sound data collection to be able to plan with precision the near-future needs of an aging society and for the predictable future? What metrics can be trusted to use for planning, program design, health and welfare policy, and manpower needs?
3. How can early detection, health and wellness monitoring, and primary care availability become more focused on the aging populations in order to reduce the need for costly, and largely unavailable, hospitalization?
4. How can home-based chronic disease management and care be established within the labor, financial, and technical resource limitations of developing African nations?
5. Given that in many places the very young are being raised by the oldest members of communities, what is likely to happen when the elderly caregivers are unable to continue in the child-rearing role?
6. How will traditions of family-based care and filial responsibility challenge, or complicate social responses such as long-term care, chronic disease management, transportation and housing for the aging?
7. Should key parties in the stable African nations begin to consider continent-wide responses to aging in society? If so, how will the central issues of food security and justice-based development be financed, organized, and processed as societies change?
8. How can African nations address the inevitable needs of aging populations while also finding ways to reduce ethnic and religious conflicts, and sustain investments in other priorities such as housing, transportation, and education? How will ethnic diversity, gender inequality, geography, religious conflicts, socio-economic disparities, and fragile political stability influence Africa’s ability to prepare for the aging of the population?
9. How will the diaspora of African talent affect Africa’s ability to take care of its own? Are there sufficient numbers of chronic disease specialists for an aging Africa? Are there specialists for the needs of the elderly in housing, transportation, and other essential service areas? "
The Canadian Press (2012) Baby Boomers’ Health Demands Will Pose Challenges, CBCNEWs.Retrieved from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/baby-boomers-health-demands-will-pose-challenges-1.1151890