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May 14, 2003

Quality of life is key population issue

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Population is a touchy issue in most countries, and Belize is no exception. But a meeting today in Belize City emphasized that numbers alone don’t tell the real story.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

The most recent census reveals that in May of 2000 there were just over two hundred and forty thousand people living in Belize. This number represents a two point seven percent annual growth in population since 1991. However, the Ministry of Human Development says we should be less concerned about the numbers than whether or not there are adequate measures in place to accommodate the increased population.

Jewel Quallo Rosberg, Nation Consultant, Min. of Human Dev.

“It’s really the quality of life of our people and the plans that we are putting in place to provide for the population that we do have.”

Today, the ministry, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund, held the first of two consultations with concerned parties to see if the country has lived up to the commitments it made at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development.

Evan Dakers, Social Planning Officer, Min. of Human Dev.

“We committed ourselves to a range of commitments, which dealt with reproductive health, dealt with education for women and girls, issues related to ageing. We also had issues that revolved around HIV and AIDS, even though at that time it was not as serious as now. And of course, we also looked at the development of indicators to measure our progress.”

Jewel Quallo Rosberg

“I think that we have made some progress. If we look at what our commitments were in 1994 and where we are now, there have been for example the development of a section on reproductive health policy, which would not have seem possible in the very early days. But now we do have a policy, and this looks at the provision of services not only for women, but for men, adolescents and young people, because they have their special needs and those needs have to be met.”

U.N.F.P.A. representative, Margarita Arilha, says she has been encouraged by the steps Belize has taken to improve the quality of life for its population.

Margarita Arilha, U.N.F.P.A. Representative

“This is the first initiative. We decided to have some focal point in all the Caribbean countries, and this focal point should have discussions with government and started to have these kinds of discussion. This day is a very important possibility to the government and civil society to start to make some kind of reflections and to know where Belize is as a country and what could be the possibilities go and to continue to have important initiatives in the area of reproductive health, gender and policies of population and environment. So this is a very important initiative, and I think that we as U.N.F.P.A., we yet started to give the support that we can give to Belize.”

Jacqueline Woods for News 5.

The meeting concludes on Thursday.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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