HelpAge International

Partnership objective

  • Support prevention and control of non-communicable diseases among older people in Tanzania.

Studies in Tanzania also show that NCDs are a growing problem for older people, accounting for nearly 60% of deaths of those 61 and older in some districts. Studies in Tanzania also show that NCDs are a growing problem for older people, accounting for nearly 60% of deaths of those 61 and older in some districts. Copyright HelpAge

What are the health needs and challenges?

Predictions by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that non-communicable diseases will account for seven out of ten deaths by 2020 and current projections indicate that by that time, the largest increases in NCD deaths will occur in Africa.

Studies in Tanzania also show that NCDs are a growing problem for older people, accounting for nearly 60% of deaths of those 61 and older in some districts.  The Tanzania National Strategy for NCDs identifies cardiovascular diseases, cervical and breast cancers, central diseases of the nervous systems, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases among the NCDs causing the greatest impact.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

HelpAge International and Pfizer have worked together since 2012 to reduce the impact of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among older people in Tanzania. During its first two years, the initiative focused on raising awareness among older people and health providers, contributing to the Government of Tanzania's efforts to provide age-appropriate health services to older citizens. NCDs included in the scope of the initiative consist of chronic conditions that include cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension, as well as Alzheimer's and other dementias. They are commonly thought of as diseases of affluence, whereas, in reality, four-fifths of deaths from NCDs are in low- and middle-income countries, and older people in developing countries are particularly at risk. Prevention through an active and healthy lifestyle can turn some of these debilitating diseases into manageable conditions.

Ongoing HelpAge project work focuses on developing an intergenerational approach to health messaging and strengthening community-based initiatives such as active aging groups. These initiatives stress the role of healthy lifestyles in preventing and managing NCDs; facilitate collaborations with health providers at local and national levels to improve prevention, early diagnosis, follow-up and treatment; and help improve data collection and analyses to inform appropriate policies. Community-based activities are being carried out in the Kibaha district. At the national level, the project supports health advocacy that includes curriculum reform, increasing access to essential NCD drugs, and working with the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Children and Elderly to improve health information management.

HelpAge has developed a robust tool to monitor healthy aging and well-being in older age in a broad range of contexts. Building on field-testing in Bolivia, Colombia, Tanzania, and Uganda, the Health Outcomes Tool is now being implemented in India and in the Philippines. Defining and measuring healthy aging poses a significant challenge. As people age, a progressively delicate balance has to be struck between medicalizing care (when appropriate) to extend life, managing symptoms and disabilities, and maintaining or improving autonomy and quality of life. HelpAge believes that the new tool could address shortcomings of existing measurement tools and enable a redefinition of health outcomes in older age by focusing on health status and functional ability of older people as well as their access to health services. 

Partnership information

Company(ies) Pfizer

Partner(s) HelpAge International, Tanzania Ministry of Health

Type of Partner(s) Government, NGOs

Therapeutic Focus Mental and Neurological Disorders, Non-Communicable Diseases

Disease(s) Addictive Disorders, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Cardiovascular Diseases, Cervical Cancer, Diabetes, Diseases of the Nervous System, Leukemia, Mental Disorders, Mental Health, Respiratory Diseases, Tobacco Control

Program Type(s) Health System Infrastructure - Outreach & Medical Services, Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach

Targeted Population(s) Elderly, General population, Marginalised / Indigenous People, Men, Patients in needs of treatment, Women

Region(s) Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 1

Country(ies) Tanzania

Start Date 2013

More information Pfizer Healthy Ageing

Anticipated completion date Ongoing