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Health Coverage Must Not Ignore Africa’s Elderly

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DAR ES SALAAM – My grandmother is 76, and my grandfather is 83. They have lived fruitful lives together, cultivating crops and grazing cattle in a remote village in the hills of southwest Uganda. But whenever I think of them, I am more in awe of their good health than their hard work.

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Because of the remoteness of their community, anytime my grandparents need medical care, they must travel 25 miles to the nearest hospital on motorcycles known as boda-bodas, paying about 50,000 Ugandan shillings (about $13) for the round-trip journey. Then, because they were recently dropped from their health-insurance plan due to age, they must cough up more money to foot the bill for treatment. In other words, for my grandparents – and for many older Africans – a visit to the doctor is onerous, costly, and exceedingly rare.

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© Project Syndicate