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Jul 29, 2019

A Parliamentary Declaration is Signed to End Hunger and Malnutrition in Belize

Parliamentarians from both sides of the aisle agree on one thing; there is need to end hunger and malnutrition.  To this end, Belize joins the rest of the world in finding ways to improve the health of the population.  In Belize City, a parliamentary declaration was penned today to address the two issues confronting the world over. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Approximately eight hundred million people are suffering from hunger; ninety million are children. Today, a parliamentary declaration was signed as a commitment by the Belize National Assembly to join parliaments across the world in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. It will seek an inter-ministerial and bipartisan approach to addressing these issues in Belize.

 

Laura Longsworth-Tucker

Laura Longsworth-Tucker, Speaker of the House

“Belize Parliamentary Alliance against Hunger and Malnutrition is a chapter being established in Belize that really mirrors the work of international and regional initiatives. And the idea is really building and creating strategies to address hunger based on evidence, statistics. So we have global statistics, we have regional statistics and there’s a lot of evidence that show that hunger and malnutrition is increasing for the first time since 2016. We have our parliamentarians on board, cross party, working on initiatives, advocating, putting their weight behind legislation for instance: legislation for school feeding, legislation to institutionalize the parliamentary fund. Then regardless of what happens, whether we are in an electoral cycle or not, these initiatives will move forward.”

 

Abelardo Mai

Abelardo Mai, P.U.P. Area Rep, Orange Walk South

“…is a national fight; it is not a political fight. It is a fight that all parties supposed to be onboard and all parties supposed to be working towards zero hunger in this country. So our party strongly supports this initiative; we are behind it. We know that the most vulnerable are the children and so we are moving towards this direction.”

 

The Ministry of Agriculture is the foundation and serves as the pillar in the initiative. Healthy nutritious foods are the pillar of society and so Minister Godwin Hulse says that it is integral to get people to transition to consuming unprocessed home-grown foods from the farms. Hulse says that he wants to rename the portfolio to Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

 

Godwin Hulse

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Agriculture

“What we have been doing for example is we have been pushing these school gardens; we have every year in conjunction with the Police Department, Youth in Agriculture seminar that we bring kids for two weeks to introduce them out of unhealthy and into healthy food. The ministry is also pushing at the small farmer level; as you know, we’ve registered pretty much all our small farmers—all our farmers, but all our small farmers especially. We took a delegation of vegetable producers to Salvador to show them how they do it over there. We have had recently a lengthy symposium with the potato farmers; we’ve had it with what we call backyard chicken. And the whole initiative is to ensure that people become aware that you are really what you eat.”

 

The Ministry of Health has been very involved in the process, because statistics show that forty-eight percent of children between the ages of thirteen and fifteen are obese; fifty-eight percent are girls and forty-four-point eight percent are boys.  The ministry of health, in collaboration with the ministry of education, has pushed to remove carbonated drinks from the schools among other initiatives to support healthy living.

 

Pablo Marin

Pablo Marin, Minister of Health

“Malnutrition which includes being overweight and obesity; the latter now classified as a disease is a growing health concern for us in health with one-third of our population being overweight and another one-third being obese. It certain has to be a concern. We acknowledge that collectively we have made major strides in malnutrition and our stouting rate has indeed gone down. But this cannot be overshadowed by how we eat disproportionately. Aside from this, we have growing challenges in diabetes, hypertension so that we do require a collective front to address these health issues.”

 

One of the challenges of the initiative is the importation of goods. As it currently stands, Belize imports hundreds of millions of dollars in products and the goal is to change that dynamic.

 

Godwin Hulse

“Economics play a major role in this country and you have a lot of importers who import a lot of stuff and they have clout because money is a clout thing. It may not necessarily be in their interest to discontinue importation and it is not in the interest of government to be putting in rules and legislation to control.”

 

Laura Longsworth-Tucker

“We have to look to see how foods are being grown; we have to look to see what we are putting in our fertilizers and so on and then we have to speak about front labelling—what labels can we put into our foods so that when we walk in, we don’t have to be puzzling over things that we can’t understand. High in fact, low in sodium and so on. So this is the main reason for the parliamentary alliance.”

 

Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister

“I have not seen this kind of collaboration for a particular issue ever and so this is history in the making. And it is our obligation to ensure that such an important issue is carried through for the benefit of all Belizeans but indeed for the benefit of our wider world.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.


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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