Background: Globally, it is estimated that people aged 60 and over constitute more than 11% of the
population, with the corresponding proportion in developing countries being 8%. Rapid urbanisation in sub-
Saharan Africa (SSA), fuelled in part by ruralurban migration and a devastating HIV/AIDS epidemic, has
altered the status of older people in many SSA societies. Few studies have, however, looked at the health of
older people in SSA. This study aims to describe the health and well-being of older people in two Nairobi
Methods: Data were collected from residents of the areas covered by the Nairobi Urban Health and
Demographic Surveillance System (NUHDSS) aged 50 years and over by 1 October 2006. Health status was
assessed using the short SAGE (Study on Global AGEing and Adult Health) form. Mean WHO Quality of
Life (WHOQoL) and a composite health score were computed and binary variables generated using the
median as the cut-off. Logistic regression was used to determine factors associated with poor quality of life
(QoL) and poor health status.
Results: Out of 2,696 older people resident in the NUHDSS surveillance area during the study period, data
were collected on 2,072. The majority of respondents were male, aged 5060 years. The mean WHOQoL score
was 71.3 (SD 6.7) and mean composite health score was 70.6 (SD 13.9). Males had significantly better QoL
and health status than females and older respondents had worse outcomes than younger ones. Sex, age,
education level and marital status were significantly associated with QoL, while slum of residence was
significantly associated with health status.
Conclusion: The study adds to the literature on health and well-being of older people in SSA, especially those
in urban informal settlements. Further studies are needed to validate the methods used for assessing health
status and to provide comparisons from other settings. Health and Demographic Surveillance Systems have
the potential to conduct such studies and to evaluate health and well-being over time.
Catherine holds a PhD (2006) in Epidemiology from the University of Heidelberg, and a Master of Science (2002) in Community Health and Health Management. She is the Executive Director at the African Population and Health Research...
Alex joined APHRC in 1998 (then a program of the Population Council in Nairobi) as a Senior Research Fellow. In 2000, he was appointed APHRC’s Interim Director and charged with the responsibility of leading its...