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Friday, November 28, 2014

WHO says ageing policies needed globally - How is the 2002 WHO active ageing framework applicable to Zambia? - African Population Studies Vol.28 No.3

A recent news release from the World Health Organization that came out on Nov.6 says that there is a need for effective strategies to combat chronic illnesses associated with aging, as there is an "ageing world population."

According to WHO, policies are needed globally, not just for developing countries. One of the recent issues from African Population Studies looks at a policy framework on aging published by WHO in April 2002. This is discussed in the article "Determinants of active ageing in Zambia" by Christopher Chabila Mapoma in vol.28 no.3. The study addresses the need to see if this type of policy framework works in developing countries, specifically Zambia. Its aim is to find out which determinants of the active ageing framework apply not only to Zambia, but the continent of Africa as a whole. The study also examines how HIV/AIDS affects active aging. Active aging is defined by WHO as "the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age." Mapoma mentions that little research has been done on the importance and contribution of the "active ageing" concept in Africa.

For this study, researchers surveyed participants ages 60 years and older in four seniors homes in the Matero, Kandiana, Maramba, Mitanda and Chibolya neighbourhoods of the Lusaka, Sesheke, Livinstone, Ndola and Mufulira districts. 41.2 per cent of the participants were men, and 58.8 percent were females. The survey asked questions pertaining to socioeconomics, HIV/AIDS, and behavioural and health/functional indicators of active aging. The responses to the questions of Behavioural and Personal determinants were measured using indicators such as feeling hopeless, useless, unhappy or lonely. Health and functional determinants were measured using indicators toward yes or no questions of being able to squat, ability to walk freely, and ability to clean their own house. Economic determinants were measured using indicators toward questions such as: have you worked in the past 12 months, having opportunities for work, and having a steady flow of income.

In this study, Mapoma found that there were more respondents from urban areas rather than rural areas. 15.8 percent were found to have received higher education, 32 percent were reported to have never attended school, and 52 percent had received primary education. HIV/AIDS was included as a determinant of active aging specifically for Zambia among other factors such as gender, residence, health and physical environment because of the effects of taking care of children who had lost their parents to HIV/AIDS. When comparing residents who live in urban areas to residents who live in rural areas, Mapoma found that residents in urban areas participated in community activities more, are more self-fulfilled and more independent. Monthly income was also linked on a respondent's ability to participate and their independence. HIV/AIDS was also found to affect participation.

The study concluded that HIV/AIDS has a long-term effect on active aging, "feeling hopeless/useless" was a personal/behavioural factor in active aging. The study also indicated that having friends and socializing contributed to the probability of aging actively. The study further concluded that the 2002 WHO Active Ageing Framework is applicable to Zambia but only to a certain extent, as it overlooks HIV/AIDS, which is a factor that greatly affects the country.

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