- Title: CUBA: Country expects to have oldest population in Latin America by 2025
- Date: 23rd May 2009
- Summary: CHILDREN PLAYING IN PARK
- Embargoed: 9th June 2009 00:53
- Location: Cuba
- Country: Cuba
- Topics: Lifestyle
- Reuters ID: LVA80PM0YDIPP31G3Z2E4BT9MIDI
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Elderly Cubans celebrated their old age as the World Health Organization's VII International Congress on Satisfactory on Longevity (ICSL) reports that Cuba has over 1,500 centenarians. Demographers predict it will have the oldest population in Latin America by 2025, and one of the oldest on the planet by 2050.
A group of elderly Cubans, who call themselves the Club 120, came together for their annual conference. The group has just two prerequisites for membership - to be a "moral" person, and to have every intention of making it to 120 years.
"At some point, we (the Cuban people) are going to be made up more and more of senior citizens. This will be good, so that society realizes the importance of seniors in the future," said 74-year old Ibis Reginfo, who attended the VII ICSL conference.
Some 200 experts from nine countries attended the ICSL in Havana to discuss the secrets behind obtaining longevity.
Some of the Cubans on hand gave credit to having an array of life choices.
"There are more options for the Cuban people, other alternatives. It used to be that people only thought about making babies. Now, there are other institutions (like schools and workplaces) in which people can advance themselves," said 56-year old Cuban retiree Jose Barrero.
For Cuba, the question of an aging population has become unavoidable as experts predict some 25 percent of Cubans will be more than 60 years old by 2025.
To ready for the aging population, geriatric wards are functioning in 33 island hospitals, with 227 senior homes also up and running, according to state statistics.
And with regard to senior care, one Cuban at the conference was quick to laud the country's political system.
"We Cubans have an advantage over the rest of the world, which is as follows - the only state that's first concern is man's well-being is Cuba. All the other states worry about earnings. And that's the difference," said 120 Club President Dr. Eugenio Selma-Housein.
Other Cubans, however, said it was up to God to decide life-span.
"It's got to be that God has allowed me to reach this age. It's the only possible secret," said 104-year old club member Arcadio Rabilio Arola.
And some were happy to dispense advice to young Cubans about aiming for a long life.
"What should young people do? Behave themselves as well as they can, eat well and not do bad things. They should live a normal life," said 101-year old Agripina Vilorio Calvo, a member of the Club 120.
Cuban life expectancy is 77 years of age - a level similar to developed countries.
Experts say that by 2025 the amount of humans more than 60 years old will be 1.2 billion, whereas the figure stood at 250 million in 1950.
The experts went on to explain the change by pointing to both increased health as well as decreases in infant mortality.
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