Annals of African Medicine
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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 145-153

Establishing in-hospital geriatrics services in Africa: Insights from the University of Benin Teaching Hospital geriatrics project

Department of Medicine, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin City, Edo, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Obehi Aituaje Akoria
Department of Medicine, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin City, Edo
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1596-3519.188896

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Background: Unawareness of the peculiar healthcare needs of the elderly and resource constraints may be some reasons why until recently, Nigerian hospitals have not been equipped with the human and infrastructural resources required to meet older adults' special healthcare needs. There is paucity of specialized health services for the elderly in Africa. Nigeria, with a population of over 170 million, did not have any healthcare facility with dedicated services for the elderly until 2012. The University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) in Nigeria was established in 1973 and created its geriatrics unit in October 2013. A prepared environment and trained interdisciplinary teams are pivotal in providing effective healthcare services for the elderly. The ongoing UBTH geriatrics project aims to provide specialized interdisciplinary health services to older adults and to provide training and continuing professional development in geriatrics for healthcare staff. In developing our inpatient services, we adopted the acute care for elders (ACE) model and worked in tandem with the "ABCs" of implementing ACE units. Results: In the face of limited resources, it was possible to establish a functional geriatrics unit with a trained interdisciplinary team. Family participation is central in our practice. Since October 2013, residents and house officers in internal medicine have been undertaking 4- and 12-weekly rotations, respectively. There is also a robust academic program, which includes once-weekly geriatric pharmacotherapy seminars, once-weekly interdisciplinary seminars, and 2-weekly journal club meetings alternating with seminars on geriatric assessment tools. Conclusions: It is possible to establish geriatric services and achieve best practices in resource-limited settings by investing on improving available human resources and infrastructure. We also make recommendations for setting up similar services in other parts of Africa.

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