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Feb 18, 2016

A Workshop on How to Help Seenagers Live Longer

Women are living longer than men in Belize and life expectancy stands at seventy-five years. But elderly persons continue to be vulnerable. In fact, as it relates to pension, as much as sixty percent of the seenagers have no pension. This morning, the National Council on Ageing held a workshop which addressed a number of issues that are affecting older persons. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Worldwide, life expectancy of older persons continues to rise. By 2020, the number of persons sixty years and older will outnumber children five years and younger. But what is being done in Belize to assist this vulnerable population to live comfortably? Well, that falls under the mandate of the National Council of Ageing, a unit of the Ministry of Human Development that is tasked with the coordination and implementation of advocacy measures for elderly persons.


Ix-Chel Poot

Ix-Chel Poot, Executive Director, National Council on Ageing

“Some of the specific areas that we talked about today is normal ageing; how to collaborate and get all of the organizations together working as one and moving forward as one voice. There’s a lot of planning that is taking place. We’ll be looking at the situation of older persons across Belize so that all the branches are up to date and up abreast with what is happening with older persons and the population that they are serving.”


HelpAge Belize launched a two-day workshop for its board members. It is the largest network that works with older persons through its nine branches across the country.


Maria Elena Sylvestre

Maria Elena Sylvestre, Patroness, HelpAge

“HelpAge has branches in all the districts and in two villages, Hopkins and Seine Bight. And in all the country, we have daycare centers and we have home visits, meals on wheels, medical clinics. We also have two residential homes, the Sister Cecilia Home and the Octavia Waight Center. So the services of HelpAge are holistic; it goes across the board and we are part of the communities in which we live.”


The Sister Cecilia Home for the Elderly currently caters to thirty-eight resident seenagers. Chair Bernard Adolphus, visibly upset, says that a recent incident shows that there is the need for better access to health services for older persons.


Bernard Adolphus

Bernard Adolphus, Chair, Sister Cecilia Home for the Elderly

“This is very disturbing to me. Our doctor—and I am hoping that the medical authorities are listening to me—sent her to the hospital. Now this later is close to eighty, eighty-five in our home and after a considerably long period, she wasn’t attended to. When the supervisor checked with them and told them what was happening, she was told it wasn’t an emergency case. only to find out later that the lady’s hand was broken. To me, it’s embarrassing; to me it smells negative of our system.”


In the last three months of 2015, there had been an increase in the number of violent crimes against older persons from across the country. This neglect, according to Ix-Chel Poot of the National Council of Ageing, is tantamount.


Ix-Chel Poot

“That’s one of the biggest issues that we are facing across the country. I think HelpAge probably faces it a lot more directly than a lot of other organizations because they are down on the ground; they have so many branches in the districts, but it is definitely a challenge. And we are looking at things such as the Older Persons Act. How do we maintain the safety of our older persons and the care of our older persons? Last year we had a caregivers training here in Belize City; we are working with the YWCA having caregivers training in Belmopan. So we are looking at building a capacity resource of persons who are able to be in the community and work with older persons in such a way.”


To date, eighty percent of older persons are living in low and middle income societies so financing and pension are also being discussed. The facts are damning.


Ix-Chel Poot

“Our pension situation is quite a difficult one. In 2010, the National Council on Ageing, HelpAge Belize and HelpAge International did a study on universal pension in Belize and during that study; we discovered that at that time, about sixty-one percent of our population had no pension benefit whatsoever. That even includes the noncontributory pension which is a hundred dollars a month. So there is definitely need for pension reform. It’s a discussion that all organizations are having.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “A Workshop on How to Help Seenagers Live Longer”

  1. Frustrated says:

    The San Ignacio Hospital is the WORSE. They actually make the residents from Otavia Waight take a number when they are brought in as an emergency patient. Can you imagine you can’t hardly sit up on a normal day and now you are very sick and the callous nurses tell you to take a number. I have had personal experience with them so I know what I am talking about. THey are the most callous uncaring bunch of nurses especially if you are not spanish.

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