The world is aging, and Africa is no exception. Although the relative number of elderly people in Africa is still low compared to other continents, that number is expected to triple in the next 30 years. Population aging is a positive outcome for healthcare systems, but it also presents a variety of new challenges. Health and long-term care systems will find themselves under increasing pressure as they tackle an increase in noncommunicable diseases while still grappling with persistent infectious diseases. Furthermore, disparities in access to or quality of long-term care represent a potential new cause of social instability and a barrier to continued development.
Held on the sidelines of the 7th Tokyo International Conference of African Development (TICAD7), this event brought together influential policymakers, NGO representatives, and academicians for a dialogue on the challenges of aging populations in Africa. More than 100 guests attended, representing research institutions, international organizations, civil society organizations, and the private sector.
The panel discussion focused on healthcare, social protection, and welfare, as well as on the potential for sharing information and lessons between Asia and Africa. One of the topics featured was the development of long-term care systems, taking into consideration the role of the family in providing elder care. In Japan, for example, a long-term care insurance scheme was introduced that enabled older adults to be supported by society as a whole, instead of relying on families to shoulder all of the responsibility. However, such schemes are yet to be established in Africa or in many Asian countries such as Indonesia, where the concept of family-based care is still deeply rooted as a social norm. Facing the increasing number of older persons, relying on family care alone will not be feasible, and thus an integrated framework to provide care via governmental organizations and local communities will be necessary. In light of the diverse races and ethnic groups living in Africa, family values tend to be complicated and sensitive to traditional practices and social prejudice. There is no one simple solution that can be shared across regions, but it was agreed that countries should work toward taking a holistic approach to address the population aging issue by learning from each other’s lessons and experiences and identifying potential challenges.
While population aging in Africa is a rather new addition to the global health agenda, thanks to improving life expectancies it is certain this topic will be of critical importance in years to come as African communities seek to maintain the health and dignity of older persons. This side event will hopefully spur more discussions in years to come.
Akio Okawara, President and CEO, Japan Center for International Exchange | Remarks
Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) | Remarks
Awa Marie Coll-Seck, President of CN-ITIE, Former Minister of Health for the Republic of Senegal | Presentation
Prafulla Mishra, Regional Director-Africa, HelpAge International | Presentation
Maliki, Director for Population Planning and Social Security, Ministry of National Development and Planning, Indonesia | Presentation
Ken Masuda, Associate Professor, Nagasaki University School of Tropical Medicine and Global Health | Presentation
Panel and Floor Discussion
Moderator: Reiko Hayashi, Director, Department of International Research and Cooperation, National Institute of Population and Society Security Research (IPSS)
Osuke Komazawa, Special Advisor to the President for Healthcare and Long-Term Care Policy, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia
The KAKENHI Project Team for “Future Population Ageing in East Africa” (Funded by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science)
Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA)
Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE)
National Institute of Population and Society Security Research