Teaching of Geriatrics in Tertiary Educational Facilities in The Western Cape A Position Paper for Policymakers & Institutions of Teaching and Learning
The paper highlights the current state of geriatric and gerontology curricula at the four universities and nursing colleges in Cape Town, South Africa. The teaching of geriatrics and gerontology to health and social sciences students in South Africa has been stunted over the last several decades. The training of professionals in geriatric care and health service provision at a primary healthcare level for older persons has also been troubled by institutional challenges and insufficient support from the national government.Research on older persons in the Western Cape highlights the vulnerable position of the elderly in society. Population predictions for the Western Cape show significant population ageing in the coming decades, reflecting regional, national, and global trends. The United Nations report on Ageing predicts that between the years 2015 and 2030, the number of people in the world aged 60 years or more is estimated to increase by 56 percent, from 901 million to 1.4 billion, and by 2050, the global population of older persons is projected to reach 2.1 billion. A lack of prioritization of healthcare for older persons by the national Department of Health, Department of Social Development, and institutions of teaching and learning perpetuates the bleak status quo of geriatric healthcare and training in South Africa. The need to improve the state of geriatric health curricula and to equip health and social professionals to meet the needs of older persons in the Western Cape and broader South Africa is imperative to all citizens. The African Union and World Health Organization with the support of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics, recommend that all health and social professionals must be familiar with old age care irrespective of the specialty. Determined efforts are required to initiate change at provincial, educational, and national level to attract the attention of the public and national government.
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