A burden on society and the lack of political will to

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a burden on society, and the lack of political will to safeguard their health only leads to a reservoir of disease and infection and increased health costs. For Malawi, the loss in years in life expectancy due to HIV/AIDS may call for a younger cut-off age of entry into old age because of the harsh environment that many women and men have to function in on a day-to-day survival. If we do not take care for this ageing population already in its younger days, we will not only lose individuals but also irretrievable libraries of food and nutrition security knowledge. We need to promote this knowledge by supporting the health and nutrition of the elderly through the care and involvement of the elderly in promotive lifestyles for the younger populations who will later become the elderly. The presentation ended by calling for more professional expertise in the area of nutrition and the elderly, as these emerging issues require more trained human resources. Lastly, Mr John Kadzandira made a presentation of fi ndings from an FAO-commissioned study of the elderly in rural areas of Zomba District, which he conducted between December 2006 and April 2007. The study collected cross-sectional data in Kuntumanji, Chikowi and Mwambo traditional authorities. It used the technique of snowball sampling to select and interview over 250 elderly respondents (one elderly person per household). To complement data from individual interviews, six focus group discussions were carried out in individual study sites. The study provided a wealth of insights about various manifestations of poverty among the elderly: high levels of ill-health and disability, low household production, low cash flow, poor housing conditions, limited ability to buy from the market, irregular meal consumption patterns and food insecurity, and problems related to caring for sick children and orphans. Furthermore, the fi ndings revealed the various roles played by the elderly within their households and communities (e.g. advisors of members of younger generations on social and sexual matters, traditional healers, etc.), as well as the obstacles they face in social participation (such as superstition
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7 and various forms of age-based abuse, including witchcraft accusations and property grabbing). The study paid special attention to access to natural resources and found that it is becoming particularly difficult for the elderly to access fi rewood, clean water and fish products, with serious negative consequences for their nutritional status and standard of living. The study also highlighted important gender differentials: in general, households headed by females seem to perform poorly on socio-economic issues, whereas those headed by elderly men perform poorly on sanitation and food consumption.
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