What is Healthy Ageing? The Views of Older People in the MENA Region


As part of the MENARAH engagement activities in the MENA region, we talked to older people about their experiences. We present here two examples to illustrate the importance of dignity, income security and health to older people in the region.

First, Gameel [not his real name] is an older Syrian refugee in Egypt. He talks about how important the community is to him in supporting his needs. He works as much as he can, but he also acknowledges the respect he gets as an older person from his neighbours and the wider Egyptian society. For Gameel, healthy ageing is living with dignity and respect and being able to continue working and contribute to his own and his family’s wellbeing. He stresses that while basic income is necessary, money is not what shapes his experience in old age. He values being treated with dignity, kindness and respect. His mental wellbeing and peace of mind are crucial to his quality of life. He also talks about the ethos of work and how this has been an important, meaningful activity throughout his life.

The second example is Abbas [not his real name]. An older Egyptian person with no formal education or regular work. He works as a street vendor and explains that the informality and insecurity of his work mean he can not guarantee a regular income for himself and his family. He wishes to have some form of social security that would enable him to have a basic income if he could not continue with his physically demanding work. He believes that younger adults in their 30s and 40s should do their best to engage in formal employment and maintain working when they have better health. He also talks about keeping active to maintain one’s physical health while growing older.

Watch extracts from the MENARAH conversations with Gameel and Abbas. This work has been facilitated by an engagement and partnership grant from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

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Professor of Health and Social Care Policy, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK

Shereen Hussein is a Professor of Health and Social Care Policy at the Department of Health Services Research and Policy (HSRP) at the LSHTM. She is a Co-Director of the PRUComm policy research unit. She is also an Honorary Professor at the University of Kent and King’s College London in the UK and the University of Southern Queensland in Australia.

Shereen is a demographer with expertise in labour-migration, sociology and economics. Her primary research revolves around ageing, family dynamics, migration and long-term care. Shereen has previously worked with the United Nations, the Population Council, the World Bank, and the League of Arab States. Her current research focuses on ageing demographics, long term care demand and migration within the UK and Europe and the implications on policy and practice.

Shereen has conducted extensive research on population ageing and its impact on long term care and health policy and practices in the UK, internationally and in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. She has contributed to recent United Nations’ policy response to ageing in the region through collaboration with UN-ESCWA and directly providing expert consultations to several countries in the region including Turkey, Oman and Egypt. Shereen leads many large research projects on ageing and long-term care in the UK and contributes to a large project addressing responses to dementia in developing countries STRiDE. Shereen is the founder and lead of the MENARAH network.