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Aug 30, 2016

Results of Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey a Mixed Bag

Findings of a survey called the Belize Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey Five were released today. The survey was held to identify key indicators to formulate policies and programs and to set the baseline for the Sustainable Development Goals and other conventions Belize has ascribed to. The result is a mix bag: there is a significant improvement in child mortality; in respect of nutrition – five percent of children are malnourished, fifteen percent are too short for their age while seven percent are overweight. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Today, the key findings of a report on children were officially released to stakeholders in the business of children, their rights and issues affecting them. The Belize Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) Five was carried out in 2015 by the Statistical Institute of Belize in collaboration with the Government of Belize and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). It was developed two and a half decades ago and is an international household survey in several areas on the status of children and by extension their mothers. One such area is childhood mortality and the statistics show that Belize has made progress over the past fifteen years.

 

Jacqueline Small

Jacqueline Small, Demographer Census, Survey & Administrative Statistician

“Another really significant measure of our development is the infant mortality rate and this went from fifteen deaths per one thousand fifteen years ago to nine deaths in the last five years. So that is an area where we have made improvement and where MICS has provided really valuable data for us to monitor our development. We also looked at vaccination and again MICS has helped us to see that we are making strides with our vaccinations. We know that the children are being vaccine because we have seen the cards as part of the survey. And when we look at the overall level of vaccination, children that have been fully immunized, seventy-eight percent of our children have been fully immunized; that means they get all the vaccines and all the doses that they are supposed to get. However, there is still a little bit of work to be done because about five percent of the children between twenty-four and thirty-five months still haven’t received any vaccines.”

 

A total of five thousand two hundred and forty-two households were surveyed from across the country. A factor that influenced the results was economic status.

 

Jacqueline Small

“We looked at all sorts of things including household characteristics: assets owned by the households and assets owned by individuals in the households. And we use all of these to put together to form an indication of how well off households are. When we release the final report, you will see for the most part, all indicators are analyzed by wealth-index. So you will see persons, the poorest, in quintile one…how they are doing, compared to persons in the richest quintile, quintile five.”

 

The results of the survey will be used by respective ministries and private agencies to develop strategies and mechanisms to address the indicators. In the case of nutrition – five percent of children are malnourished, fifteen percent are stunted – too short for their age – and seven percent are overweight. While the numbers have improved when compared to the previous study, Nutritionist Robyn Daly of the Ministry of Health says that there is need for further interventions primarily in the south and remote areas.

 

Robyn Daly

Robyn Daly, Nutritionist, Ministry of Health

“What we are looking at is to improve or scale up our case by case management of malnutrition. If you look the previous MICS results, it showed that malnutrition was very high in the southern parts of Belize—we are talking about the Stann Creek District and Toledo District. So what the ministry has done is that we have employed what we would call social advocates for nutrition and their responsibility is to literally work along with children and parents who have children, especially the women that have children under five years of age, to address malnutrition. We find all the children that are under five and we ensure that if they are malnourished, they get the supplement, they are on it. They do growth monitoring, they are weighed, they are measured, the parents are educated about nutrition. Lot of work has been done in terms of villages because that is where we have poor accessibility to clinics, clinic care and stuff. What we are noticing with the MICS results is that we are seeing some increases in some other districts for stunting. So from this, what we will propose now is to scale up. So we have the two southern districts covered; we want to do a preventative strategy so we are going to look at having the same type of advocates, nutrition advocates and go into the other districts as well as do case by case management of children under five. We do see there is a prevalence of obesity and this is alarming to us as well because remember this target group that the MICS covered is under five. So that is telling us that even though we have a large amount of malnutrition, we also have over nutrition as well which is obesity. And many times people like to see the chubby babies, it is so cute, but they do put them at health risk. So again the education and the monitoring goes both ways.”

 

While the key findings were released today, the final report will be completed later in the year. Duane Moody for News Five.

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