LTCcovid Country Profile – Printable Version

1.04. Approach to care provision, including sector of ownership

Within Sub-Saharan Africa, national efforts to develop long-term care systems exist only in Mauritius, Seychelles, and South Africa. The expansion of organized long-term care has been organic and uneven in terms of geographical spread, populations served, and services offered. Most organized care is clustered in urban metropolitan settings. Two major service models appear to dominate: charitable care for the most destitute older people (usually operated with few resources by faith-based, civil society or public welfare bodies) and private for-profit services, mostly in the form of residential homes for those who are able to pay. There appear to be few, if any, organized services for the majority of older people who fall between these extremes of the spectrum (source:

Because organized systems of long-term care are generally lacking, families constitute the major source of care for older people who are no longer able to live independently. However, evidence also reveals that a substantial group of older people receive no family care whatsoever. The majority of family care is provided by female relatives, ranging in age from children to older adults, although some studies document significant involvement of men in caregiving. Some further evidence points to a role played by unorganized and unregulated domestic workers in long-term care provision. Care is provided either in older people’s homes or in the home of caregiving relatives (source:

Many researchers and some policy-makers in sub-Saharan Africa have concluded that it is no longer feasible to rely on kin as the mainstay of long-term care provision, given a perceived weakening of extended family support systems. Key factors assumed to underly this shift include increased rural to urban migration and labour force participation, especially among young women; increasingly monetized economies; the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic (increased deaths among younger adults); and loosening norms and structures for extended family solidarity. Although perhaps intuitive, it is important to note that presumed declines in family care provision have not yet been studied formally and considerable debate continues about the ways in which social trends are shaping the experiences of families and later life in sub-Saharan Africa (source:

Update for: sub-Saharan Africa   Last updated: January 6th, 2022

1.10. Workforce conditions: pay, employment conditions, qualification levels, shortages

Most family caregivers are left to provide support with little or no guidance on how to address complex issues that sometimes arise. Dementia is a key example: few caregivers understand the nature of the condition, the ways it can influence behaviour and what responses can ease the burden and enhance the lives of care recipients. Unpaid family caregivers also pay a price in terms of foregone education and/or income-earning opportunities. Study findings further highlight adverse effects on caregivers’ physical health, including fewer opportunities for self-care, and their mental health, including depression. Some evidence documents the considerable financial costs of caregiving borne by families, particularly in households with dependent children (source:

Update for: sub-Saharan Africa   Last updated: January 6th, 2022

1.11. Role of unpaid carers and policies to support them

Families provide most of care in sub-Saharan Africa, often without any  support. Particularly women are often expected to forego education or employment to provide care for older people (source: WHO series on long-term care on healthy ageing).

Update for: sub-Saharan Africa   Last updated: February 17th, 2022

1.09. Community-based care infrastructure

Because organized systems of LTC are generally lacking, families constitute the major source of care for older people who are no longer able to live independently. Numerous concerns about quality of care have been documented. These range from general neglect of older people to exclusion, marginalization, and abuse. Care inadequacies may result in older people being unable to maintain their functional ability or lead to depression or early death. Inadequacies in family care arise particularly in contexts of poverty and vulnerable employment. In these cases, the family members who provide long-term care lack the resources to give better care and are faced with a choice between neglecting their work, training or other economic activities or neglecting their dependent older relative (source:

Update for: sub-Saharan Africa   Last updated: January 6th, 2022