Today OCTOBER 1, 2021 as the world celebrates the international Day of Older Persons, I want to join in thanking the senior citizens in our community who have and who continue to make their contribution to our society.
I wish to recognize the work that those who have gone before us have done and the paths that they created for us to follow. International Day of Older Persons is celebrated every October 1st and is meant to not only recognize the contribution of older persons to their society, but also to stand still and reflect on the needs of those older persons still with us today.
The theme for this International Day of Older Persons is Digital Equity for all Ages. How appropriate, also for St. Maarten, as it is during this time that the government and people of St. Maarten are involved in the digitalization of so many different aspects of our daily lives.
For senior citizens, so the older persons in our community, this means that in order to make the best use of services offered to them, these persons need to be able to join the digital flow and take part in the advancing technology. As we therefore stand still and recognize the place and worth of the older persons in our society and their special needs, let us pay keen attention to these needs in order for the elderly to make optimal use of services provided and which are being digitalized.
This starts at the very basic premise of for example creating email addresses to have that communication; it means to be able to have easy and affordable access to technology and given assistance where necessary. And if this is not possible, then we need to assure that no older person is penalized or left behind, because of digitalization of services. Remembering as well, that being the social beings that we all are, human contact and human warmth are irreplaceable.
Today let us focus on this aspect of service to our senior citizens, let us focus on the health of our senior citizens, also in this age of digitalization. In this time of a pandemic the needs of all older persons, such as their health and nutritional needs are critical. Consideration must be given to fulfilling these needs, as they determine the quality of life of our elderly. Dental care, eye care, nutrition are basic needs for everyone, but in the case of our seniors, they are indispensable. For too long we have been going around in circles as far as universal healthcare for our people is concerned. Universal healthcare, ensuring that all persons and especially our elderly have access to basic healthcare.
We also need to step out of the mould of one package fitting all and start to look at specific segments of our community, such as the elderly and their health care needs in particular.
So on this International Day of Older Persons, I want to recognize those persons on whose shoulders I proudly stand today, on the shoulders of the St. Martiner of old with that strong sense of identity, that strong sense of pride and I commit myself once again to not only live their legacy, but to look after those who followed and who are still with us today.