ADULTS AGED 45 AND ABOVE

Varsity wins Sh39.7m grant to study ageing in Kenya

Aga Khan will focus on Alzheimer’s disease, mental health and factors influencing late-life economic well-being

In Summary

•In Africa, the number of people over 60 years is expected to increase from the current 5.6 per cent to over 15 per cent by 2050.

•However, there is very little data on the ageing population, the university said in a statement.

There is little research on ageing in Kenya.
There is little research on ageing in Kenya.

Aga Khan University, Nairobi, has received a Sh39.7 million grant to study ageing in the country.

In a statement, the university said it will begin the work immediately, focusing on adults aged 45 and above.

The key focus areas will include Alzheimer’s disease, mental health, economic impacts of climate change and air pollution, and factors influencing late-life economic well-being.

“Over the next 30 years, as Kenya becomes a place where people live longer and need different kinds of care, social structures will need to change,” Dr Anthony Ngugi, interim chair of the department of population health and co-principal investigator of the study said.

“It is vital to begin studying both population-level trends and individual ageing trajectories to understand risk factors for health, disability, and well-being in the Kenyan context.” 

In Africa, the number of people over 60 years is expected to increase from the current 5.6 per cent to over 15 per cent by 2050.

However, there is very little data on the ageing population, the university said in a statement.

To address these gaps, the university and the Center for Global Health Equity applied and received a $338,000 (Sh39.7m) grant from the US National Institutes of Health.

The university said the grant supports pilot work to lay the groundwork for future grant applications aimed at launching the full-scale Longitudinal Study of Health and Aging in Kenya, a cohort study of Kenyan adults aged 45 and older.

The study will enrol thousands of participants and will follow them over years.

“Kenyan researchers and our partners can provide data that informs the social and policy adjustments we need in Kenya to address the growing needs of an ageing population,” Ngugi said.

“Such an approach requires commitment from participants and patience to see how results unfold over the years.” 

“We want to focus on high-quality research with high impact on the population of East Africa and beyond that would be strongly aligned with national health research priorities for relevance and impact,” Prof Lukoye Atwoli, dean of the medical college said. 

The study utilises an existing study platform, the Kaloleni/Rabai Community Health and Demographic Surveillance System, a population-based research platform that includes more than 14,000 individuals over the age of 45 living in Coastal Kenya.

“Our partners at AKU have strong relationships with communities in the coastal region, and the trust and understanding they’ve built make all the difference in the quality of the research,” Dr Josh Ehrlich, research assistant professor with the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan and the co-principal investigator said

Dr Ngugi and Dr Ehrlich will use preliminary data and findings collected during this initial phase to improve the study’s infrastructure and, eventually, to propose a larger rollout in Kenya to field a nationally representative sample.

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris

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