By Ingrid Fernandez
The the United Nations development Program (UNDP) Millennium Development Goals (MDG) report and post 2015 agenda gave Belize positive reviews in some areas but noted there is still much progress to be made.
According to the report, Belize is failing to meet its goal to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. The report said Belize is off target in combating the prevalence of underweight children under five years old.
Since 2009 Belize has not supplied any new data to indicate the rates of people living in extreme poverty but, the report said, “country wide nutritional food supplements from the Ministry of Health (MOH) may reverse decline.”
According to the report, Belize is also failing its MDG of promoting equality and empowering women. Although Belize is on target, achieving parity at primary school level with the ratio of boys and girls enrolled, when it comes to secondary school and tertiary education there is a disparity, creating a marginal decline that puts the country off target in that MDG.
Governmental gender equality representation is another area in which Belize is lacking. According to the report, there has been no change in the number of proportion of seats held by women in national parliament. After the November 4th elections, two women have been sworn in as ministers of Investment and Immigration.
Belize is also failing to meet its goal to reduce child mortality, the report noted. It puts Belize off target when it comes to reducing mortality rates of children under five as there has only been “marginal progress” in that area. The report commented that challenges remain in reducing infant mortality rates, however, Belize has improved improved its children immunization rates.
The report also stated that Belize is still off target when it comes to improving maternal health care. Increasing rates were marred by declines in 2012, although there have been “historic achievements of zero deaths,” the report states.
The UNDP did note some positives for the country. According to the report, Belize is meeting four of its MGDs.
The country was successful in achieving universal primary education where there is a high net enrollment in primary education and the proportion of students finishing primary school and literacy rates are on target. The report said, however, that there is a disparity between these rates when it comes to urban and rural areas.
Belize also achieved its goal to improve the combating of HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases. There has been a reduction in the prevalence of HIV among the 15-24 demographic although efforts have shown “slow progress”. There has been a “marginal decline” in the use of condoms and proper knowledge of HIV among the same demographic, it added. The report noted that the general population has gained increased access to antiretroviral medication.
Belize is now at pre-elimination stage when it comes to combating communicable diseases such as malaria and Tuberculosis, the report said. It noted that there have been no malaria reported deaths and that “progress is being made both in incidence and prevalence of TB.”
The country is also on target, ensuring environmental sustainability, it said. The report indicates that the general population has access to clean water and that government is making proper social investments in urban and rural areas to keep this MDG on target. Although the general population is provided with proper sanitation facilities, the report said “Challenges remain in South Side Belize City and Toledo.”
The report also indicated that Belize is progressing in the MDG of developing a global partnership for development. According to the report, the super bond restructuring has improved the country’s debt profile. It added the country has experienced a notable improvement in technology and communication yet areas such as rural Belize and Toledo are lagging in access and usage.
The MDG is an initiative started by the UNDP to measure and track developmental progress of countries. The 2015 report documents successful initiatives and investment strategies towards achieving the MDG. It declared “from 2007, to present, the Government of Belize has been particularly deliberate in its strategies to make positive strides toward MDG achievement.”