Albertina and Walter Sisulu Institute of Ageing in Africa (IAA) was established as a Cross-Disciplinary Group within the Department of Medicine in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town, South Africa on 1 April 2001. The Institute represents a coalescence of five specialist entities on ageing in the faculty: The division of Geriatric Medicine, the Neurosciences, Neuropsychology, Old Age Psychiatry, and Gerontology Programme.
The scientific merit of the establishment and operation of the IAA lies foremost in global population ageing and its implications, particularly in Africa and specifically in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Population ageing is accompanied by increasing longevity and age-associated morbidity, and creates a heightened demand for health services and social care. Demographic, social and economic forces in SSA countries, such as migration, urbanisation, political violence and conflict, chronic poverty, disease – in particular the HIV/AIDS epidemics are exacerbating older persons’ vulnerabilities and diminishing their capabilities. Older women are more vulnerable than older men to the effects of forces.
A critical need thus exists for scholarly activity to address the challenges and opportunities of ageing in sub-continent, to redress imbalances in race, gender and equity as a result of apartheid in South Africa’s older population. Hence, a critical mass of researchers, clinicians and educators must be grown and supported. The IAA therefore aims to build and strengthen capacity to generate knowledge, and to develop human capacity with which to respond proactively to the challenges of population ageing and to improve the quality of life of older people in South Africa and SSA.
The vision of the IAA is to be an academic, clinical and research centre of excellence, which
- embraces five major ageing-related subdisciplines in mutually productive and interactive partnership;
- addresses critical issues of ageing in sub-Saharan Africa in the 21st century; and
- serves as a catalyst for local, national and regional expertise, and a focal point for the development of services, training and research on ageing.
The mission of the IAA is to facilitate the delivery of the highest standard of interdisciplinary, in-context training for health and allied professionals and evidence-based clinical and social care for older persons, within designated focal areas and programmes, whilst undertaking appropriate research and audit upon which policy and planning for older persons in sub-Saharan Africa may be based.
The IAA’s mission is achieved through:
- Internal and external (inter-institutional) inter-disciplinary partnerships and teamwork, across communities, countries and continents;
- Human resource development; and
- Continuous risk assessment within current legal, ethical and financial constraints.
Substance is given to the mission through an integrated function of academic scholarship, clinical service and research. To this end, five vertical and horizontal core product areas of the IAA are:
- Clinical service
- Education and training
- Community responsiveness and engagement
- Information brokerage and policy.