Exploring The Health Status Of Older Persons In Sub-Saharan Africa
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Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has traditionally had a low life expectancy due to the onslaught of the HIV epidemic, high levels of chronic diseases, injuries, conflict and undernutrition. Therefore, research into public health concerns of older persons has largely been overlooked. With a growing population, the roll-out of antiretroviral treatment, and the effects of globalisation, SSA is experiencing an increase in the number of people over 50 years of age as well as an increase in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCD). The aim of this review is to highlight available research on the health status of older persons in SSA, and to identify the current gaps that warrant further investigation. A literature search was conducted across multiple databases to identify studies in SSA on older persons (aged 50 years and older) related to health indicators including nutritional status, NCD and HIV burden. While it was concluded that older persons are at an increased risk of poor health, it was also determined that significant gaps exist in this particular area of research; namely nutrient deficiency prevalence. Resources should be directed towards identifying the health concerns of older persons and developing appropriate interventions.