Ageing And Disabilities Minister Assures Government Is Working on Reducing Cost of Food

Minister with responsibility for Social Development and Gender Affairs; Youth Empowerment, Ageing and Disabilities, the Hon Senator Isalean Phillip, addresses seniors at the Seniors’ Health Fair held on Wednesday April 17 at Conaree lawns.

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS (MMS-SKN) — At the successful and highly interactive Seniors’ Health Fair held on the Conaree lawns on Wednesday, April 17, the seniors expressed that they were fully aware that for them to lead productive lives they have to eat certain foods, but decried the high cost of accessing the recommended foods.

: Clockwise from top: Dr Dwayne Archibald addresses the seniors; Director in the Ministry of Social Services and Gender Affairs, Ms Patrice Carey; Minister Hon Senator Isalean Phillip; Fitness Trainer, Mr Delwayne Delaney conducts chair exercises for the senior

Minister with responsibility for Social Development and Gender Affairs; Youth Empowerment, Ageing and Disabilities, the Hon Senator Isalean Phillip, in an exclusive interview on-site said that the cost of food is one of the things the Federal Government is working on as part of its Sustainable Island State Agenda.

“Food security is one of the key pillars, and so we are looking at that and there is quite a bit of work going on in agriculture about reducing our food import bill by 2025 by producing a lot more locally to help us reduce the cost to the consumers in terms of the cost of food because, yes, we recognise the cost of food is hurting all of us,” stated Hon Phillips.

She advised that the Government is putting things in place to make sure there is more investment in agriculture and farming, as in doing so it will eventually be able to reduce the cost of food to all the consumers. About the Ministry of Agriculture’s approach to the 25 by 2025 agenda, which aims to reduce the food import bill by 25% in 2025, the Hon Senator asserted: “We are working on that as a government in other areas.”

According to the Minister, the Seniors’ Health Fair was hosted by the Department of Ageing as part of its Seniors Enrichment Programme for seniors drawn from around the island to meet as a group where they could learn more about their well-being, The health fair was a partnership with the Ministry of Health, and the Disabilities Service Unit of her Ministry.

“We have different stations for our seniors to check their blood pressure, their blood sugar, dental, also HIV testing, and we have representation from Social Services who will give seniors information about social services that are available to them,” explained the Hon Phillip. “We also had a special session for women with disabilities around sexual reproductive health as part of the health fair.”

Chairing the proceedings was the Supervisor of Homecare Officers, Ms Andria Caines, who was fully supported by the Coordinator for Ageing Services, Ms Lyncia Dore. The first to address the seniors was Dr Dwayne Archibald of the Accident and Emergency Department at the Joseph Nathaniel France General Hospital who talked to them about dementia, advising them on how to detect it and how to deal with it.

Dr Archibald told them that while most of the persons use the word elderly, and others use the word geriatric to refer to persons of their ages, he said he prefers the word ‘experienced’, because they are teaching him. He stated: “You guys have much more experience than I do – you guys know what happens in the world.” No sooner had he finished saying that, one of the seniors said to him: “I can teach you – my son is bigger than you.”

When the Director of the Ministry of Social Services and Gender Affairs, Ms Patrice Carey, addressed them providing them with information on the social services under their remit, she asked them what types of services they were familiar with. They all answered and said ‘PAP’. But on telling them that PAP was just one, and later updating them on its current status as LIFT, they mentioned other services like school uniforms, food assistance and medical among others.

: The seniors were given the opportunity to air their views and they did it not only with a lot of confidence, but also displayed knowledge of their subject as well. Picture on top left shows the senior who led in prayers before the health fair officially opened.

They were also addressed by the National HIV/AIDS Programme Coordinator and Health Educator in the Ministry of Health, Dr Mathias Afortu-Ofre, on AIDS and sexual health. Fitness Trainer and former international sprinter, Mr Delwayne Delaney, who is also the President of the SKN Athletics, gave the seniors several chair exercises, which they participated in with gusto as they were joined by Minister Isalean Phillip.

Working from the tents at the health fair were Ministry of Health officers who conducted blood glucose tests, and checked blood pressure; the oral hygiene tent that had officers from the Newtown Dental Clinic, led by Dr Randy Liburd; Department of Community Development and Social Services; the National HIV/AIDS Programme; and the Elevate Programme.

The only function at the health fair that did not involve the seniors was at the tent which housed female members of the Association of Persons Living with Disabilities, and from Ade’s Place. According to PS Mrs Janelle Lewis-Tafari, they had a segment where they had a special presentation on sexual and reproductive health which was conducted by Health Educator, Mrs Lucine Vaughan.

Activities at this tent were coordinated by Ms Travia Douglas, Disability Services Programme Officer, under the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Ageing and Disabilities.

“I would like to extend a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to those agencies that would have responded and come on board to partner with us,” said Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Ageing and Disabilities, Mrs Janelle Lewis-Tafari. “The Ministry of Health would have come to do checks for blood pressure, and diabetes, and they also sent their dental team to do oral checks for our seniors. They also had a team doing HIV testing.”

She also thanked the Ministry of Social Services especially for sharing more information on the LIFT Programme, and the Elevate Programme of which she said: “One of their trainees has a little business where she does her manicures, pedicures, so she came and did that to the seniors, and also offered massages for the persons who were here.”

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