Director, Mission to Elderlies Project Nigeria, Center for Clinical care and Clinical Research Nigeria
Assessing the WHO recommended universal health coverage among geriatric population in Nigeria
Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is defined by WHO as ensuring that all people and communities receive the quality services they need, and are protected from health threats without financial hardship. Without considering the health and social care needs of the increasing numbers of older people, UHC will be impossible to achieve. One of the six assessment questions asked in UCH is ‘’can you get medicine and other product that you need?’’. Hypertension, diabetes and arthritis are among chronic illnesses among geriatric population requiring constant accessibility of medication to prevent complications. UHC is important for this population Objective To assess UHC among elderly hypertensive patients using a key UCH assessment question.
Using a cross sectional study design, we assessed UHC among elderly hypertensive patients using a key UCH assessment question thus; ‘’can you get the medicine that you need?’’. Data was analyzed using SPSS version 20, comparing demographic characteristics of respondents.
Respondents were 521 elderly persons aged 55-91 years. 70% are female, 58% had minimum of primary education and majority (46%) reported farming as occupation. 54% (279/521) had at least one of three chronic illnesses associated with aging thus 45% (126/279) are hypertensive; 44% are arthritic while 11% are diabetic patients. Only 22%(60/279) agreed to ability to always access medicine; 19% of hypertensive; 24% of arthritic; and only 7% of diabetic patients. The remaining 78% had missed medications due to inability to buy them. Those with business as occupations are more likely to afford medicines at 45% than others.
Our findings show that chronically ill elderly persons do not always afford/access medications and thus are short of WHO recommended Universal health coverage. Innovative strategies to improve UHC among the geriatric population is recommended.
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