TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO’S ACTION PLANS FOR ITS CHANGING POPULATION
In accordance with the tenets of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA), which was endorsed by the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, The Division of Ageing was established in August 2003. The Division of Ageing website is an umbrella agency of the Ministry of People and Social Development website
The Division of Ageing is designated as a policy implementation unit and its main goal is to coordinate the implementation of the National Policy on Ageing, which was developed by a Multi-disciplinary Committee and approved by Cabinet in 2006. The Policy addresses (12) priority areas of action that are consistent with those identified in MIPAA.
Trinidad also endorsed the Brasilia declaration and produced a national progress report at the Third Regional Intergovernmental Conference on Ageing in Latin America and the Caribbean held in Costa Rica in May 2012.
This report provides a comprehensive account of the approaches adopted and carried out by the various stakeholders, relevant Governmental and Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The report is compiled by the Ministry of the People and Social Development, Division of Ageing, taking into account submissions made by all Social Sector Ministries and NGOs.
This report demonstrate that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago is concerned about how to prepare for an ageing population and that is committed to address the major issues in the Brasilia declaration. The Brasilia declaration identified that actions aimed at older persons would be evaluated under the following headings: Legislative, Institutional, Programmatic and Administrative. The report from Trinidad and Tobago revealed significant progressive along all of these lines. It demonstrated that since 2007 a number of services for the elderly had been put into place. All of these actions have demonstrated that Trinidad and Tobago is committed to the human rights of the elderly.
An identification of best practices revealed that there are initiatives which qualify, some of which are: (i) an inaugural Senior Citizens Parliament; (ii) intergenerational discussions; (iii) Cataract Surgeries Reduction programme; (iv) Geriatric Adolescent Partnership Programme (GAPP); and (v) Retirees Adolescent Partnership Programme (RAPP).
The full report can be accessed at this link.
Some of the actions achieved under the Heading Programmatic are listed below:
1. Senior Activity Centres Programme
It is projected that by 2020 there will be 195,000 seniors. The senior centers is one of the components of the Continuum of Health and Social Support Services for Older Persons, approved by the Cabinet in 2004. This programme was awarded the Prime Minister’s Innovating for Service Excellence Award in 2006 in the category “Making a Difference to People – Social Inclusion.”
The programme, which targets older persons aged 55 years and over who are in good health and physically active, is designed to provide the necessary physical, social, and mental stimulation and support mechanisms to enable older persons to optimize their later years. Presently there are 9 such centers in Trinidad with the newest one opening in Penal in 2013. There are three in Tobago. They are managed by NGOs with financial support from the government. Each Centre is unique due to the cultural environment where the centre operates. It has been statistically proven that the activities offered significantly impact the physical and emotional wellbeing of the seniors who attend the Centres. There is still need to establish more Senior Activity Centres in other zones as the demand for the services increases with the growing numbers of early retirees. The variety of activities offered at the Centres include Aerobics, Yoga, Tai Chi, Home Gardening, Field Trips, Art & Craft, Computer Literacy , Swimming, Dance and Reading/Adult Literacy
2. Chronic Disease Assistance Programme (CDAP)
Elders have access to free health services at the nations health clinics and hospitals and selected drugs are free.
3. Free Transportation
Persons aged 60 years and over enjoy free bus rides; free Ferry trips to Tobago; and free trips on Water taxis during non-peak hours on one of the most modern and efficient transport systems in Latin America and the Caribbean.
4. Public Education Some of the activities are highlighted below:
- A Public Forum for Older Persons is held in four (4) different communities annually for seniors to communicate and share their issues and ideas with the government officials present
- June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and is commemorated annually by the Division of Ageing.
- October 1 is International Day of Older Persons and is celebrated annually by the Division of Ageing.
In 2011, the occasion was marked with the first biennial Senior Citizens Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago.
- The University of the West Indies in Trinidad introduced in August 2004 Social Gerontology as an elective course in its Social Work, Sociology, Psychology and Social Policy degree programmes
- The Older Persons Information Centre (OPIC) was established by the Division of Ageing in 2005 as a component of its Public Education on Ageing campaign, to serve as a referral facility for information on resources, services and products for older persons in Trinidad and Tobago. OPIC is accessible to the public through telephone, mail, facsimile, internet and walk-in visits
- The Ministry of the People and Social Development, through the Division of Ageing, conducts annual Public Fora for Older Persons to promote healthy and active ageing.
The Division of Ageing has also embarked on designing an developing several programmes, projects and policies specifically geared for older persons. By collaborating with other relevant Ministries, the private sector, NGOs, Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), schools, the media, academicians and international agencies, the Division intends to implement these programmes, policies and projects, which form part of the Action Plan of the Policy on Ageing.
The National Plan of Action on Ageing is being formulated by the Division of Ageing in collaboration with the relevant Ministries of Health, Housing and the Environment; Works and Infrastructure; Transport; Planning and the Economy; Sport and Youth Affairs; Education; Community Development; Finance; Legal Affairs; Public Utilities; and the Traffic and Licensing Divisions. The Ministry of the People and Social Development, through the Division of Ageing, will highlight the needs of older persons to the policy makers and programme developers of the various Ministries, geared towards sensitizing them to the implementation of the National Ageing Policy.
Sources for information were obtained from:
NATIONAL REPORT REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO AT THE THIRD REGIONAL INTERGOVERNMENTAL CONFERENCE ON AGEING IN COSTA RICA MAY 8-11, 2012 Ministry of the People and Social Development Division of Ageing Full report available.
And ECLAC SUBREGIONAL HEADQUARTERS FOR THE CARIBBEAN FOCUS Newsletter of the Cooperation and Development Committee (CDCC) November—December 2012