Ageing and mental health resources for older persons in the African region of the World Health Organization

Carlos Augusto de Mendonca Lima, Annette Leibing, Rudiger Buschfort


Africa is a region where a demographic transitionfrom high child mortality and low life expectancy, to lowchild mortality and high life expectancy is only just beginning.Nevertheless, some countries already have a growing numberof persons over the age of 60 – a number that is likely toincrease rapidly. As a consequence, the number of olderpersons with mental disorders is likely to increase. To betterunderstand the organisation of care for older persons, dataare being collected to reduce the imbalance between ‘diseaseinformation’ and ‘resource information’ – information thataddresses older persons’ needs in terms of mental health care.This review presents some results from the continent. Mentalhealth problems among older adults are still not a public healthpriority in Africa, but careful examination of each countrynevertheless reveals certain specificities, such as divergent lifeexpectancy and different values regarding ageing. The authorspresent some recommendations for the development of carefor old persons with mental disorders, based on the generalrecommendations made by the World Health Organization(WHO) in the World Health Report 2001 (WHR 2001), andby the WHO and the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) insome consensus statements on psychiatry of the elderly.

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Submitted: 09 April 2008
Published: 01 March 2008

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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)