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NCA launches 8-year Strategic Plan

HighlightsNCA launches 8-year Strategic Plan

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Mar. 18, 2024

Belize’s aging population, which comprised 6% of its total population in 2020 and is projected to increase to 18% by 2050, is facing a new phenomenon due to rising longevity and declining fertility rates.

To address this demographic shift, the National Council on Aging (NCA) has launched an ambitious 8-year Strategic Plan (2023-2030) focusing on enhancing the quality of life, safeguarding rights, fostering resilience, and integrating older persons into their communities.

The NCA, tasked with formulating strategies for the advancement of older persons in Belize, has identified five key areas in its third Strategic Plan since its establishment in 2003.

“It’s really about transforming our society into an age-friendly society,” Executive Director of the NCA, Ix-Chel Poot, told us at the Plan’s launch at the Belize Biltmore Plaza today.

The Strategic Plan was built on previous activities that have been done, while also relying heavily on collaborating with partners and stakeholders including the Ministry of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples Affairs; the Ministry of Education; Ministry of Transport; Ministry of Health; NHI; Social Security Board; and also older people themselves to talk about the things that were in place, the things that were going to be developed, but especially the things that they felt were missing and they wanted to see in their communities and societies.

Some of these reoccurring themes included financial security, health care, and safety within their communities.

Now, after over a year-long consultation process, the 5 strategies developed in the plan to target these concerns include:

Strategy 1: Creating an Enabling Environment

Strategy 2: Support Healthy Aging

Strategy 3: Family and Support for Older Persons

Strategy 4: Increase Income Security of Older Persons

Strategy 5: Creating Age-Friendly Spaces

“It’s not so much the contribution of the ministry, but the contribution of partners that makes the Council on Aging work. We have so many people who are contributing,” shared Hon. Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development, Families, and Indigenous People’s Affairs. “We don’t want the document just to be on paper. It has to be a living plan that we will all work together towards.”

Despite the Belize Constitution recognizing the rights and freedoms of all citizens, the absence of an Older Person’s Act highlights the need for specific legislation to protect older persons’ rights.

The Plan’s next phases include a sensitization campaign to educate older individuals about their rights and the Strategic Plan, followed by the implementation of initiatives such as multidimensional studies, legislative development, and the establishment of coordinating mechanisms to realize the outlined objectives.

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