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Common Preventable Health and Social Problems Encountered by Elderly in Shinyanga Region in the Northern Part of Tanzania

Ngallaba, S. E., Makerere, D. J., Nyanza, E. C., Kapesa, A. and Marwa, K. (2016) Common Preventable Health and Social Problems Encountered by Elderly in Shinyanga Region in the Northern Part of Tanzania. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine. pp. 115-123. ISSN 2162-2485

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Abstract

In Tanzania elders are respected as repositories of inherited wisdom, experienced and principal decision makers in the community. However, evidence shows that such repositories are no longer considered important in most societies. As a result elders are neglected with some mistreatment in terms of provision of health and social services for instance; at times they get denied and ignored of their obvious rights, ignoring their retirement benefits and the rights onto free social services as per the Tanzania National Ageing Policy of 2003. Elders are therefore faced with physical, psychological and geriatric social suffering. It is on this basis that this study tries to explore the common preventable health and social problems encountered by elderly in Shinyanga Region in northern part of Tanzania. Across sectional community based study of 465 subjects randomly selected was done in three wards of Kahama District. The district was selected randomly out of 8 districts of Shinyanga Region, structured questionnaires with both closed and opened endower used; the information was collected from house to house and other information collected from health facilities within the wards as every ward had one public health facility; subjects (respondents) were obtained using purposive sampling technique aiming at elderly with 60 years of age and above. Kahama district has a population of approximately 36,014 of which 1500 (4%) are in the elderly age group of 60 years and above. The study population was 465 which is 30% (465/1500) of the geriatric population of Kahama. Among this group 5% were female while 41% were male and 53% (248/465) were married. 64% (297/465) were taking care of themselves, 32% (150/465) cared by relatives and 4% (18/465) cared by the community. Among the respondents, 40% (185/465) were affected by HIV/AIDs in one way or another either living with orphans whose parents died of HIV/AIDS or asking care of the infected patients within the family. It was also found that 73% of the geriatrics were not exempted from medical treatment fees so they had to pay for their medical care. However, only 32% were aware of getting free treatment and 61% of the study populations were not satisfied with the medical care provided at the public health facilities. The common diseases affecting this age group are: Eye problem 59% (273/465); Arthritis 52% (241/465); Dental problems 27% (124/465); Hypertension 23% (107/465); Backache 22% (105/465); Malaria 28% (132/465); Hearing problems 26% (121/645); Urinary tract Infection 35% (165/465); Depression 8% (36/465). Dementia was also a problem though we had no tools to confirm the diagnosis; some of the geriatrics had more than two diseases. The majority of the elderly age group in Kahama District are not aware of their rights that they deserve free treatment according to Tanzania policy, furthermore for assessment and screening of health problems. A majority of the elderly die prematurely due to preventable diseases and more than half of the diseases affecting geriatrics are preventable.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Geriatric, Social Problems, Health Services, Preventable Diseases, Tanzania
Subjects: Health Systems > Community Health
Divisions: Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences (CUHAS)
Depositing User: Mr Joseph Madata
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2016 05:52
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2016 05:52
URI: http://ihi.eprints.org/id/eprint/3708

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