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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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Founder and Director
Shereen Hussein is 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.