Minumum Data Set (MDS)
This page includes the definition of an MDS used for this project and relevant references.
An MDS on ageing and older persons is a compilation of available data focused on selected aspects of demographic, social, economic and health characteristics of older persons in “data poor”* countries.
* "Data poor" here refers to situations where the data available cannot provide the needed evidence for decision-making, either because of complete or partial absence of the relevant data, or inadequate quality of the data that are available.
A goal of the project was to create a reliable and timely evidence base to inform policy (i.e. a minimum data set).
Routine Data Collection and Systems
Information on older adults currently collected by routine sources throughout the African Continent is fragmented, incomplete or not specific to older populations. For example, vital and health care-generated statistics or population-based surveys carried out by governmental or external agencies, for instance by Macro International's Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), do not usually include mortality, morbidity or risk factor measures applicable to older adult populations. Instead, they collect data that focuses primarily on maternal and child health indicators. The only use for this in the context of older populations is in studies of 'life-course determinants of diseases' at older ages (for example, one could assess the overall cost-effectiveness of hepatitis B immunization interventions in young age groups for reducing the incidence of disease in older age groups).
Other routine sources of data are health alert surveillance systems, which focus primarily on timely reporting of infectious diseases. Surveillance systems of diseases of special national importance, especially HIV+ prevalence and AIDS, also provide incidence, prevalence and mortality data for pertinent age groups. These surveillance systems, however, require a constant lifeline of resources to keep them functioning and capable of collecting and delivering high quality data.
Non-Routine Data Collection and Systems
Non-routine data sources provide data relevant to the health status of older populations, but again may not be comprehensive or representative. Demographic, economic and social surveys provide data on such proximate causes of impaired function as individual and household wealth and earnings, family and household size and structure, and social and economic roles culturally assigned by age and gender. However, these data exist for relatively few countries in the African Region.
Aggregate data are found in social and economic account data and health care delivery statistics routinely reported by national governmental agencies. Unfortunately, a preliminary review of some of the currently available data raises concerns about the paucity and quality of data . In addition, much of this data is not current. Thus, while some data on the health status of populations at all ages may be available, quality data on the situation of the population over 60 years of age is relatively scarce throughout the African Region.