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In Conversation with Nahla Zeitoun, World Bank: Working Together to Improve the Quality of Life of Older People in the MENA region

Nahla Zeitoun, a Senior Social Protection Specialist at the World Bank Regional Office, discusses the key areas for policy considerations to enhance the lives of older people in the region. This conversation was part of regional MENARAH engagement activities that took place in 2021-22, facilitated by a Partnership and Engagement Grant from the London School of Hygiene.

Ms Zeitoun stresses the imminent need for governments in the region to put in place social protection measures for older people as the region is going through a fast-paced demographic transition. She highlights the cases of Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where she has direct responsibilities as part of her portfolio. For Egypt, Ms Zeitoun, explains the competing social protection priorities across different population age groups, especially in relation to younger people. With young median age and large cohorts of younger adults, Egypt’s policy landscape is shaped by the demands of this age group in relation to job creation, education and social needs. However, she argues that the same cohorts will eventually grow older, and policymakers need to think about this transition now to prepare them for ageing healthy and with dignity.

Ms Zeitoun realises that there are considerable leaps to be taken to ensure that the younger cohorts of now will have the quality of life and the necessary opportunities and infrastructure as they grow older. She calls for strong partnership working and collaborations across the states, international organisations, non-governmental organisations and active platforms like MENARAH to put together actionable plans within the coming years. Such plans should consider the various needs of the population as they grow older, from social protection and long-term care needs to employment and life-long learning opportunities.

Founder and Director
Shereen Husseinis a Health and Social Care Policy professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), United Kingdom.
Shereen Founded the MENARAH Network in 2019, through an initial grant from the Global Challenge Research Fund, UKRI. She is a medical demographer with expertise in ageing, family dynamics, migration and long-term care systems. Shereen regularly collaborates with the United Nations, the World Health Organisation and the World Bank in policy and research focused on ageing in the Middle East and North Africa Region.
Shereen received her undergraduate degree in statistics and a postgraduate degree in computer science at Cairo University. She completed an MSc in medical demography at the London School of Hygiene and a PhD in quantitative demography and population studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom.