71 UNGA: Cuba at General Debate of the Eight Working Session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Aging.

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation attaches great importance to the discussion of the issue of population aging in the United Nations, and to the role played by this Working Group since its inception.

Cuba will be one of the two countries in Latin America and the Caribbean with the largest aging population in the near future; for this reason, our country has given priority to elderly care and carries out a multidisciplinary and intersectoral work to guarantee the quality of life of this sector of the population.

Thanks to public policies and social programs of great impact, the quality of life of the Cuban people has risen considerably during the last half century. The guarantees offered by universal and free access to health care services, the high levels of education achieved by Cubans, as well as urban sanitation and sanitary programs, have risen life expectancy to rates exclusive to  most developed states. This has been made possible by the political will of the government and the efforts of the whole people.

Significant advances in gender equality and the empowerment of women have reduced birth rates, especially pregnancies at a young age. The unrestricted access of Cuban women to higher levels of education, their insertion in the labor market under the same conditions of those of men, sexual and reproductive health programs, family planning that they can enjoy, the levels of economic independence achieved by them, among others, are factors that have reduced birth rates in the country.

Although all stated before are indisputable achievements of the Cuban Revolution, the combination of these factors has affected not only the size and pace of population growth, but also their age structure, leading to an aging process.

This reality poses major challenges, particularly in terms of meeting the needs of the aging population, specialized medical services, social security and assistance programs, outreach strategies to promote protection and respect for the rights of these people and of ensuring their full social inclusion. Cuba faces these challenges with the same humanist spirit, which has placed the human being at the center of public management of state efforts.

Mr. Chairman,

Cuba believes that programs and strategies for international cooperation and the transfer of resources, technologies and knowledge to developing countries should be strengthened in order to complement and reinforce their national capacities in social development, particularly with regard to the issue of aging.

Developing countries are in worse conditions than developed countries to adequately care for aging populations due to their underdeveloped condition, resulting from an unjust and morally unsustainable international economic order. Cuba believes that the millions of resources destined for global military spending should be used for the economic and social development of developing countries, including to population aging care.

It is undoubtedly imperative that the conditions to age with dignity be created.

Thank you very much.