A Minimum Data Set on Ageing and Older Persons in Sub-Saharan Africa: Process and Outcome

  • Monica Ferreira University of Cape Town
  • Paul Kowal
Keywords: Sub-Saharan Africa, Ageing, Older persons, Minimum data set, Demographic and Health indicators, Policy


Relatively scant knowledge is available on the situations of older persons in sub-Saharan Africa. Reliable and accessible demographic and health statistics are needed to inform policy making for the older population. The process and outcome of a project to create a minimum data set (MDS) on ageing and older persons to provide an evidence base to inform policy are described. The project was initiated by the World Health Organization and conducted in Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. A set of indicators was established to constitute a sub-regional MDS, populated from data sources in the four countries; a national MDS was produced for each country. Major gaps and deficiencies were identified in the available data and difficulties were experienced in accessing data. Specific gaps and constraints against the production and access of quality data in the sub-region are examined. The project and outcome are evaluated and lessons are drawn. Tasks for future phases of the project to complete and maintain the MDS are outlined.

Author Biographies

Monica Ferreira, University of Cape Town
Institute of Ageing in Africa, Faculty of Health Sciences 
Paul Kowal
Division of Evidence and Information for PolicyWorld Health Organization