According to the United Nations, the number of people worldwide aged over 60 years more than doubled from 382 million in 1980 to 962 million by 2017, accounting for roughly 8.1% of the world’s total population. By 2050 the number of elderly people in the world is expected to double yet again, reaching almost 2.1 billion people. This is likely to force countries to rethink how they care for the elderly and invest more in facilities focused on caring for this vulnerable demographic.
As far as South Africa is concerned, the most recent population census produced by Statistics South Africa on June 2017, shows the proportion of elderly South Africans mirrors the global data with those over 60 years of age numbering 4.6 million, or 8.1% of the population by 2017. This is up from 2.8 million people, or 7.1% of the population, in 1996. What’s concerning is that the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) World Report on Ageing and Health estimates that over the next 35 years, the proportion of South Africans aged 60 years or over will climb to 15.4% of the population.
Sadly, one of the symptoms of ageing is a decline in health as the cells in our bodies become less adept at repairing themselves. The result is that people need more medical assistance as they age, which in turn places increased strain on both public and private healthcare facilities. According to WHO data, almost 40% of South Africans aged 65 to 74 years face challenges with meal preparation, personal grooming and mobility. This figure jumps to 49.2% for those aged 75 and over.
Of course, this is not a uniquely South African phenomenon. Japan, Europe as well as the US and UK are all grappling with ageing populations. However, where these developed nations differ from South Africa is that their ageing populations tend to either have comparatively greater financial means to care for themselves or are able to rely on highly developed national healthcare systems to cater to their needs. National Treasury estimates that only 6% of South Africans will be able to retire comfortably while a survey by 10X Investments revealed that a massive 41% of the country’s economically active population have no retirement plan in place at all. The implication of this is that the vast majority of elderly South Africans are likely to be reliant on the state to fund their health care needs going forward.
Fortunately, the Department of Health (DOH) has embarked on a hospital revitalisation programme which will help upgrade and expand some of the country’s existing facilities. One beneficiary of this renewed investment by Government is the Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Seme Memorial Hospital located just north of Durban, which Enza Construction is in the process of completing for its client, the KwaZulu-Natal DOH.
Upon completion, the R3 billion facility will provide high-quality healthcare to more than 1.5 million people living in KwaMashu, Inanda, Ntuzuma and other surrounding communities in the north Durban catchment area. It also forms the basis for the DOH’s Hospital Revitalisation Programme in KwaZulu-Natal, which is the provincial initiative of a broader national programme aimed at providing much-needed health facilities throughout South Africa.
The facility is set to join Enza Construction’s expanding portfolio of world-class healthcare facilities that already includes the 220-bed Steve Tshwete District Hospital in Middelburg, which is being 100% funded by the Department of Public. As a Level 1 District Hospital, it will serve the Steve Tshwete local municipality as well as the Nkangala district of Middelburg.
Once completed in the first half of 2020 the Steve Tshwete District Hospital will also boast state-of-the-art equipment needed in the area, a training centre with a 600-seater auditorium as well as an additional 332 beds for staff accommodation.
As a construction firm with an almost 20-year track record in South African infrastructure Enza Construction believes that the success of the Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Seme Memorial Hospital could provide a blueprint for further investment in facilities for the country’s aged population. This would not necessarily require dedicated investment in brand new facilities built exclusively for the aged. One possible solution would be to merely realign the existing renewal programme so that a sufficient portion of the investment is channelled towards providing facilities for the aged without placing undue strain on the national or provincial fiscus.
As a 99% black-owned firm Enza Construction is acutely aware of the needs of South Africa’s historically disadvantaged communities. As a Level 1 BBBEE Contributor with a Level 9 GB CIDB grading, Enza Construction remains eager to leverage the skills of our management team, which together boast over 150 years collective experience in the construction industry, to help find solutions to South Africa’s long-term infrastructure needs. Providing state-of-the-art amenities for the aged at a cost-efficient price point is one such area where we believe we can play a key role in helping roll out improved public services on behalf of our Government stakeholders.
By Rowan Crowie, Chief Executive Officer of Enza Construction
— Construction Safety (@ConstructionSfy) August 13, 2019