Health and socioeconomic resource provision for older people in South Asian countries: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka evidence from NEESAMA

Natasha Roya Matthews, George James Porter, Mathew Varghese, Nidesh Sapkota, Murad Moosa Khan, Ammu Lukose, Stella Maria Paddick, Malathie Dissanayake, Naila Zaman Khan, Richard Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The global population is ageing rapidly, with low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) undergoing a fast demographic transition. As the number of older adults in LMICs increases, services able to effectively address their physical and mental health needs will be increasingly important. Objective: We review the health and socioeconomic resources currently available for older people in South Asian countries, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, to identify gaps in available resources and assess areas for improvement. Methods: We conducted a search of grey and published literature via Google Search, Compendex, EBSCO, JSTOR, Medline, Ovid, ProQuest databases, Scopus and Web of Science. Data on population demographics, human resources, health funding and social protection for older people were extracted. Local informants were consulted to supplement and verify the data. Results: In the study countries, the number of health professionals with expertise in elderly care was largely unknown, with minimal postgraduate training programmes available in elderly medicine or psychiatry. Older adults are therefore cared for by general physicians, nurses and community health workers, all of whom are present in insufficient numbers per capita. Total average healthcare expenditure was 2.5–5.5% of GDP, with 48.1–72.0% of healthcare costs covered by out-of-pocket payments. Pakistan did not have a social pension; only India and Nepal offered financial assistance to people with dementia; and all countries had disproportionately low numbers of care elderly homes. Conclusions: Inadequate healthcare funding, a shortage of healthcare professionals and insufficient government pension and social security schemes are significant barriers to achieving universal health coverage in LMICs. Governing bodies must expand training programmes for healthcare providers for older adults, alongside increasing social protection to improve access to those in need and to prevent catastrophic health expenditure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2110198
JournalGlobal Health Action
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Ageing
  • South Asia
  • elderly health
  • mental health
  • social care


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