After three days of deliberation, the countries attending the Regional Intergovernmental Conference on Ageing, held in the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) from 19 to 21 November 2003, agreed today on a Regional Strategy for the Implementation in Latin America and the Caribbean of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing.
The general purpose of this agreement is to set the priorities for implementing the Madrid International Plan of Action, approved during the Second World Assembly on Ageing, held by the United Nations in 2002, which represented progress in UN principles favouring older adults (particularly their independence, participation, care, self-fulfilment and dignity), approved in 1991, and also forms part of the Millennium Declaration.
The Strategy has defined a general goal and several objectives for each of the main issues dealt with by the Conference:
1. Older Persons and Development
General Goal: To protect the human rights of older persons and to create the conditions necessary to ensure their economic security, social participation and education favourable to satisfying their basic needs and their full inclusion in society and development.
- To promote the human rights of older persons.
- To promote their access, in conditions of equality, to decent employment, continuing education and credit for their own or community initiatives.
- To promote and facilitate older persons' inclusion in the formal labour force.
- To expand and improve pension coverage, both in contributing and non-contributing systems.
- To create the conditions necessary for the full participation of senior citizens in society, to favour their empowerment as a social group, and to strengthen their exercise of full citizenship.
- To promote equality of opportunities and lifelong access to education.
2. Encouraging Health and Welfare During Old Age
General goal: Older persons should have access to integrated health care services responsive to their needs, which guarantee a better quality of life in their old age, and preserve their ability to function and their autonomy.
- To promote universal coverage of older persons in health services, including ageing as an essential component in health legislation and national policies.
- To establish an integral health service that responds to the needs of older persons, strengthening and reorienting existing services and creating new services as necessary.
- To promote healthy personal conduct and environments through national and community laws, policies, programmes and actions.
- To create suitable legal frameworks and mechanisms to protect the rights of older persons who use long-term care services.
- To promote the preparation of human resources by designing and implementing a national plan for training in gerontology and geriatrics for current and future health care service providers, at every level of care, and particularly at the primary care level.
- To develop and apply instruments for improving the State's knowledge about the health of older persons, and to monitor changes.
3. Creating Enabling and Supportive Environments
General goal: Older persons must live in physical, social and cultural environments that favour their development and their full exercise of rights and duties during old age.
- To adapt the physical environment to the characteristics and needs of older persons to favour an independent lifestyle in old age.
- To increase the availability, sustainability and better adjustment of social support systems for older persons.
- To eliminate all forms of discrimination and mistreatment of older persons.
- To promote a positive image of old age.