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Nov 24, 2017

To Youths’ Good Health

A national youth health forum was held today in Belize City. The event brought together students from various high schools to discuss health challenges affecting them and the youth population of Belize. Mental health, drug abuse and healthy lifestyles were the main topics addressed. News Five’s Duane Moody reports from the Ramada Belize City Princess.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

You’ve heard of many initiatives by the government and other organizations that tackle various health complications and issues affecting our society. Among those illnesses include chronic diseases such as diabetes and renal failure, as well as mental health conditions and the abuse of drugs—alcohol, marijuana and tobacco. Well today at the Ramada Belize City Princess, a most vulnerable population, the youth, was the target group for an intervention. A youth Health Forum organized by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with various organizations sought to bring awareness of the conditions affecting the younger generation as a method of prevention.

 

Robyn Daly

Robyn Daly, Nutritionist, Ministry of Health

“We wanted to use an opportunity to empower youths as it pertains to health. Many times, the youth is not thinking about health and they would wait until their older or in middle adulthood to start worrying about health. As you know, we have a very young population and our nation is pretty much unhealthy, we have a lot of chronic disease; we have obesity, overweight, we have many risk factors. So we need to look at ways to try to empower young people and try to promote a healthy lifestyle.”

 

Last week, the Government of Belize officially launched a feeding program with a Mexican agency in four rural primary schools in the south. It is but one of the many tactics being used to promote healthy eating habits within the school setting. Nutritionist Robyn Daly says that there is a move to further influence the types of foods being sold in schools across the country.

 

Robyn Daly

“The Ministry of Education is working closely with the Ministry of Health to promote healthier foods available for students. There are school feeding programs that we work along with to ensure that they are providing a balanced meal. The snack shops and the cafeterias are a little bit more harder to approach because some of them are not managed by the Ministry of Education so it becomes a private vendor kinda thing. But yet we want to have, we are working on developing a school feeding policy which will also impact what is being sold at the schools and what is available for students while they are at school.”

 

A 2014 survey by the National Drug Abuse Control Council, The University of the West Indies and the Organization of American States on high school students between the ages of thirteen and sixteen show that many have been exposed to drugs—be it alcohol, marijuana, tobacco or even stimulants. Alcohol is the drug most abused, followed closely behind by weed and then over the counter medication/stimulants and tobacco. Even more staggering is the finding that a majority are poly-drug users, with two or more drugs.

 

Esner Vellos

Esner Vellos, Executive Director, NDACC

“Our responsibility is to provide not only young people, but the general public with the information that is required—so in terms of alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, over the counter medications, stimulants—information that the people would require so that they would be able to make the right choices. Our work at the National Drug Abuse Control Council is not necessarily say no to drugs, but say no to drugs with the information that would empower you to be able to make the right choices in life. We have approximately a hundred and sixty-four students, young people that come through the doors of the National Drug Abuse Control Council seeking outreach services for any drugs that you can think about in the country of Belize. So it is a vulnerable population and a vulnerable population that requires a lot of attention that requires a lot of information, but also requires a lot of guidance so that they would be able to walk the right path.”

 

The mental health of an individual is no longer taboo or for older persons. Even at a young age, a person can be suffering from a mental disorder. And it is expected that at this forum, the students will return to their classrooms, their homes and communities and share this knowledge.

 

Robyn Daly

“As we look at mental health, there are many issues and as a country that is one area that I think poses a challenge to young people because poor mental health might lead to substance abuse, it affects nutrition and nutrition affects mental health. So everything is linked in a way.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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