NARRATOR: The Government of Trinidad and Tobago recognizes the important contribution of youth to community and national development. And for that and other reasons, and aware of the challenges they continue to face, the Government actively undertakes efforts to ensure the health and well-being of all of citizens, including the adolescent and youth population.
That’s what the twin-Island Republic’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Rodney Charles told the Commission on Population and Development during its general debate on national experiences in population matters, focusing on adolescents and youth.
Ambassador Charles said that Trinidad and Tobago strives to protect the rights of all of its citizens, including its adolescents and youth.
TAPE: We agree with other delegations that adolescence is a crucial stage in an individual’s life and that decisions made in that period profoundly impact the individual’s future. Consequently, the Government has invested significantly in education, as well as skills development, to ensure that adolescents and youth are knowledgeable; able to make informed choices; lead meaningful, productive and enjoyable lives and contribute to sustainable development. To this end, primary education is compulsory and available at no cost; and secondary and tertiary education are also available at no cost to students. Furthermore, there are various programmes which provide text books and meals to students, as well as grants to families in need for the purchase of other relevant supplies to facilitate the obtainment of a sound education.
NARRATOR: Ambassador Charles noted that it was true that health, including sexual and reproductive health, as well as access to full and productive employment and decent work, were equally fundamental to the well-being of younger members of society to allow them to realise their fullest potential.
He explained that in relation to health, the Population Programme Unit at the Ministry of Health, established in 1969, has been the major provider of Sexual and Reproductive Health services throughout the country.
TAPE: These include, inter alia, fertility management, diagnostic and screening services, contraception, and family counselling. That Ministry is also currently undergoing a transition which will result in the continued provision of sustainable, cost free services, as well as an expansion of the sexual and reproductive health services programme. Additional services will be provided in the future specifically to the adolescent and youth population. The Ministry also continues to embrace opportunities to generally increase the services available. Currently, there is a national family planning association which assists an providing information to the population, including to adolescents and youths on, inter alia, issues related to sexual and reproductive health; safeguarding against undesired pregnancies, as well as sexually transmitted diseases and infections such as HIV/AIDS; and which provides counselling services in relation to the latter, contraceptive methods and sexual and reproductive health issues in general.
NARRATOR: Ambassador Charles stressed that It was imperative that youth are embraced as key partners in the advancement and development of societies and included in decision-making processes so that they become and remain actively engaged in decisions which ultimately affect their future. This is Donn Bobb reporting.