Report Card on Belize Millennium Goals
The Millennium Development Goals are a set of objectives that world leaders committed to achieving over a fifteen year period to improve the lives of the poor. And while the abbreviation MDG is locally known, many Belizeans have no idea if the country is close to achieving those goals by the 2015 deadline. So today, the Belize Scorecard and Outlook Report 2010 was launched to highlight areas that the Jewel has excelled and the areas that need attention. The key areas of success were health related while the challenges include poverty and unemployment. News Five’s Delahnie Bain was at today’s launch at the University of Belize Belmopan Campus.
Delahnie Bain, Reporting
It’s report card day for Belize; particularly for the progress and setbacks towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The launch was held at the University of Belize under the theme “Eight Goals, One Nation: Accelerating Progress Towards the Millennium Development Goals”
Erwin Contreras, Minister of Economic Development
“Eleven years ago world leaders met at the United Nations and adopted the Millennium Declaration. They signed onto to it and committed to making the right to development a reality for everyone and to freeing the entire human race from want. Eight goals, now well known as the Millennium Development Goals or MDGs emerged out of the declaration. These eight goals have inspired citizens and leaders alike and has guided national and international development efforts to date.”
The report shows that Belize has made significant strides toward several of the MDGs, but there are also areas that stagnant.
“Today we can celebrate how well the country has performed in reaching some of the goals, particularly those relating to improving maternal health, reversing the spreads of HIV/AIDS and ensuring access to clean water. However, it is of critical importance that we also highlight the areas where we made partial progress as those areas will remain very high in the political agenda going forward.”
Roberto Valent, UN Resident Coordinator
“Gender is one area, we know that no female representative resides in the House of Representatives. Youth employment; actually youth and unemployment stands at twenty-eight point four percent according to the 2010 national census. Poverty reduction; population below the poverty line stands at forty-one point three percent according to the country poverty assessment 2009 and job creation; all issues which will require decisive actions from the government and all state institutions.”
MDGs four, five and six which seek to reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases all fall under the Ministry of Health. C.E.O. Dr. Peter Allen had positive news in all three areas.
Dr. Peter Allen, C.E.O., Ministry of Health
“In Belize our national health system has made steady progress. We can boast ninety-five percent vaccination coverage and a ninety percent reduction in the mother child transmission of HIV. There is always more t be done. It’s a huge accomplishment by the system but there’s almost more to be done and the incidence of premature delivery is too high; learning why this happens and what can be done to improve it is our next task. The Ministry of Health is extremely proud to report for the first time in our history, we have recorded zero maternal deaths for a full year. Everybody in the health system has contributed to this unparalleled achievement and I congratulate them all. Belize is also, as you have heard, well on its way to meeting MDG six. Since 2008, we have documented our first ever decreases in the number of new HIV infections. More Belizeans than ever have free access to anti-retroviral drugs and we have decreased the prevalence of TB by two hundred percent. Meanwhile, our UN partners have advised us that Belize has achieved the pre-eradication phase for malaria, moving from over seven thousand cases a few years ago to less than a hundred last year.”
Rural Development Coordinator Ernest Banner addressed the passes in improved water access and failures in sanitation; both aspects of MDG seven.
Ernest Banner, Rural Development Coordinator, Ministry of Rural Development
“Where water is concerned, Belize is considered an MDG plus country as in 1995 only forty-three point six percent of the population had access to an improved water source. In 2006, that increased to seventy-six point four percent and in 2010 it went up to ninety point three percent. These successes have been due in large measure to the commitment of the government and its development partners. Statistics show that in 1995, only forty-one percent of the population had access to improved sanitation. In 2007, it increased to sixty-four percent and in 2010; it went up to seventy percent. This is well below the 2009 target of ninety-four point six percent. Belize is off track in sanitation.”
Meanwhile, Cynthia Williams of the Ministry of Human Development explains three key projects in the achievement of MDG 3, which focuses on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Cynthia Williams, Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation
“When we look at BOOST, what does BOOST stand for? It stands for Building Opportunities for our Social Transformation. And what is it? As I mentioned, it is a conditional cash transfer where all those persons who are recipients of this also have to meet certain conditions to remain in the program. Supporting Single Mothers Project, this began in 2008 as a manifesto promise from this administration. And from its inception we have had four cycles. A total of two hundred and thirty-two women have received training and we have now begun the fifth cycle, which began in September 2011. The goal is to provide women who are interested in running for political office with the skills and training on, for example, how to run a campaign; to make sure that they are able to understand the language and 3hat are some of the things that they need to do if they are interested in putting themselves forward for political office.”
Delahnie Bain for News Five.
The final Millennium Development Goal is to develop global partnerships since it recognized that the only way to truly eradicate poverty is through international cooperation.