Open Access Open Badges Research article

The key actors maintaining elders in functional autonomy in Bobo-Dioulasso (Burkina Faso)

Abdramane Berthé123*, Lalla Berthé-Sanou3, Serge Somda1, Blahima Konaté13, Hervé Hien134, Fatoumata Tou13, Maxime Drabo345, Fatoumata Badini-Kinda6 and Jean Macq2

Author Affiliations

1 Muraz Centre, 01 BP 390 Bobo-Dioulasso 01, Burkina Faso

2 Institut de Recherche Santé et Société, Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL), Bruxelles, Belgium

3 Burkinabe Public Health Association (ABSP), Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

4 Health Sciences Research Institute (IRSS), Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

5 National Public Health Laboratory (LNSP), Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

6 Sociology department, Ouagadougou University, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:689  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-689

Published: 5 July 2014



Globally, a significant increase in functional disability among the elderly is expected in the near future. It is therefore vital to begin considering how Sub-Saharan Africa countries can best start building or strengthening the care and support system for that target population. Study objectives are: 1) identify the key actors of the social system who maintain elders in functional autonomy at home in Bobo-Dioulasso (Burkina Faso) and 2) to describe the functional status of older people living at home.


We conducted a longitudinal descriptive study among the elderly aged 60 and above (351). Their functional status was evaluated using the Functional Autonomy Measurement System (SMAF). Data analysis was done using the statistical software package STATA (SE11).


In Bobo-Dioulasso, 68% of seniors have good functional capacity or a slight incapacity and 32% have moderate to severe incapacities. Older people die before (3%) or during (14%) moderate to severe disabilities. This would mean that the quality of medical and/or social care is not good for maintaining functional autonomy of older people with moderate to severe disabilities. Two main groups of people contribute to maintain elders in functional autonomy: the elderly themselves and their family. Community, private or public structures for maintaining elders in functional autonomy are non-existent. The social system for maintaining elders in functional autonomy is incomplete and failing. In case of functional handicap at home, the elders die. But stakeholders are not conscious of this situation; they believe that this system is good for maintaining elders in functional autonomy.


It is likely that the absence of formal care and support structure likely shortens the lifespan of severely disabled older people. Stakeholders have not yet looked at this possibility. The stakeholders should seriously think about: 1) how to establish the third level of actors who can fulfill the needs to maintain elders in functional autonomy that are not satisfied by others (family members or the older individuals themselves), and 2) how to reinforce the role of each actor and the collaboration between the different groups of people of this system.

Aged; Disability evaluation; Disabled persons; Old age assistance; Social support; Africa south of the Sahara