3 December 2012

Tanzania: Old People Vulnerable to Disease - Study

ELDERLY people are susceptible and heavily affected by non communicable diseases (NCDs), a study on the Burden of NCDs in Older Tanzanians by Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) has revealed.

Presenting preliminary findings of the report in Dar es Salaam over the weekend a health expert from IHI, Dr Zoe Hildon, said old people are discriminated against when seeking medical attention in hospitals.

"The report indicates that diagnosis of suspected NCDs was more frequent in urban setting with 57. 1 per cent compared to rural areas with 49.8 per cent," she said.

Dr Hildon said lack of equipment, medicines and resting rooms remained challenges for the elderly when seeking medical treatment, saying despite qualifying for free healthcare services, older people are often told to buy medicines while others are just given pain killers even for serious diseases.

Mr Edwin Mung'ong'o, the Director of Public and Health Facilities in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, said a study carried out by the Adult Morbidity and Mortality Project between 1994 and 2002 in four regions, indicated that between 15 and 28 per cent of deaths in four regions were caused by NCDs.

"The problem was very rampant in two regions of Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro whereby most reported cases were diabetes, cancer and hypertension," said Mr Mung'ong'o, who was the guest of honour at the event.

He noted that NCDs are estimated to cause 35 million deaths yearly throughout the world while 60 per cent of the deaths occur in Africa. It is also estimated that the number will reach 60 million deaths in 2020 as seven out of ten deaths will be caused by NCDs.

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