Building new evidence to guide policies on addressing rapid ageing in Myanmar

The initial survey results of the first longitudinal cohort study of older adults in Myanmar have been published in BMJ Open, providing baseline data for the country to create evidence-based policies to prepare for rapid ageing. The study was jointly supported by WKC and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development.

By 2030, about 13% of the population in Myanmar is expected to be 60 years or older. Similar rapid ageing is occurring in many South-East Asian countries, although effective medical and long-term care systems remain underdeveloped.

The cohort study was modelled after the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study (JAGES), initiated in 2010 to investigate the health and well-being of older Japanese adults in the world’s most aged society. The study is the first to adapt and validate the JAGES questionnaire outside Japan. Directly comparable with JAGES data, the results will enable evaluation of the long-term care needs and their possible determinants among older adults in Myanmar.

The baseline survey found that older people (60 years and older) living in the rural Bago region have lower socioeconomic status and more commonly self-reported poor health. Those living in urban Yangon reported less social interaction and had a higher average body mass index but scored better on their self-reported ability to perform daily living activities. Women in both regions reported poorer physical and cognitive function compared to men, controlling for age.

The follow-up survey will be conducted in 2021 to gather outcome data on mortality, changes in mobility, and declines in physical health and cognitive function. This will allow a prospective risk-assessment of older adults who may require assistance with activities of daily living. The data can also inform the translation of research evidence into policy and practice, such as the need for outreach and support to disadvantaged older women.

Further details about the study and the research article can be found here.