Caribbean Conference: Rights Of Older Persons

June 15, 2017

Age Concern Bermuda was present at the United Nations [UN] Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean’s [ECLAC] convening of the Caribbean preparatory meeting for the Fourth Regional Intergovernmental Conference on Ageing and the Rights of Older Persons.

The two-day meeting was convened in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, from 1-2 June 2017. The purpose of the convening was to assess the progress that has been made in the implementation of both the San Jose Charter on the Rights of Older Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing [MIPAA].

Dr. Claudette Fleming of Age Concern Bermuda, attending as Executive Director of a non-government organization [NGO] indicated, “I was delighted to have been invited by ECLAC to be a part of a very intriguing dialogue and review of the progress of the advancement of the conditions of older persons throughout the Caribbean since the 2002 adoption of the MIPAA. I am also grateful that the Bermuda Government endorsed my attendance.”

Photo: Dr. Fleming [Second row, second left] of Age Concern Bermuda pictured with representatives of UN Member States of the Caribbean at UN/ECLAC meeting in Trinidad & Tobago. Included in discussions: the Hon. Lenard Montoute, St. Lucia, Minister for Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment, Youth Development, Sports and Local Government [front row, left]; Dr. Jennifer Rouse, Director, Division of Ageing, Ministry of Social Development and Family Services, Trinidad & Tobago; Ms. Diane Quarless, Chief of ECLAC [front row centre]; the Hon. Delma Thomas, Grenada, Minister of Social Development and Housing [front row right].

UN-ECLAC Conference Trinidad & Tobago June 2017

Age Concern said, “Caribbean policy makers from member countries of the UN identified key actions to expand protection for the human rights of older persons over the next five years.

“In addition, Member States reported on the most important measures which have been taken to strengthen protection for the rights of this age group, including new or improved laws, policies and programs.

“Panel discussions focused on strategies used to promote healthy ageing, social and health protection and the contribution of older persons to family, community and public life.

“Member countries also discussed the implementation of the MIPAA and the San Jose Charter on the Rights of Older Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean, which are both international agreements which address population ageing and the human rights of older persons.”

Dr. Fleming added, “I learned a great deal and have a greater appreciation for the progress that Bermuda is making in managing its ageing population in comparison to other countries.

“Specifically, I was able to make reference to Bermuda’s progress with respect to the launching of a Bermuda Health Plan; it’s Long-Term Care Plan; improvements to health insurance coverage for seniors and the value of Age Concern’s work with respect to advocacy and information programs such as our annual legal clinics hosted in partnership with MJM here in Bermuda.

“I believe my international colleagues were most intrigued by the degree to which Age Concern, as a NGO, is working with government and the private sector to meet the needs of older people.

“I did observe however that we have a long way to go in getting a handle on our long-term care issues and the staggering cost of living in Bermuda among other challenges that threaten the quality of life of ageing residents, particularly the poor and the vulnerable.

“In addition, like all other participating countries, Bermuda has yet to implement a national plan on ageing, despite the laudable goals of MIPAA and the urgent need to address the rapid ageing of its population and related implications.

“I commend all those working in Bermuda and across Latin America and the Caribbean who are striving diligently to improve the lives of older adults across the region and encourage them to continue in their efforts.”

Ms. Diane Quarless, Chief of ECLAC sub regional Headquarters for the Caribbean stated, “It was our extreme pleasure to host Dr. Fleming at the sub regional conference as a representative of the NGO sector in Bermuda.

“Dr. Fleming provided great insight into the ageing challenges facing Bermuda which in many ways mirrors that of a number of Latin and Caribbean states. In particular, we benefited from her presentation on the role of advocacy in the rights discussion and the importance of educating older adults on the responsibilities that they have in the ageing process.

“Her passion for the rights and the protection of older adults is certainly shared by colleagues throughout the Caribbean and we are very pleased with the contribution that she made to our discussions.”

During the final day of the sub regional preparatory meeting representatives agreed on a set of recommendations to further protect and promote the rights of older persons.

These recommendations will contribute to discussions at the Fourth Regional Intergovernmental Conference on Ageing and the Rights of Older Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean, which will take place from 27-30 June 2017 in Asuncion, Paraguay.

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