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.
REPORT ON ACHIEVEMENTS TOWARD MILLENIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS PRESENTED
It has been eleven years after the Millennium Declaration was signed and five years since heads of governments made it into goals for the year 2015. Today at the University of Belize, Belmopan campus, Belize took a look at its own progress towards achieving the goals at the local level. Altogether there are eight goals: including Eradicating Extreme Poverty and Hunger; Achieving Universal Primary Education; Promoting Gender Equality and Empowering Women; Reducing Child Mortality; Improving Maternal Health; Combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases; Ensuring Environmental Sustainability; and Developing Global Partnerships. And Belize’s progress on the specific issue of the goal which has to do with child mortality and maternal health.
Erwin Contreras, Minister of Economic Development “Today we can celebrate how well the country has performed in reaching some of the goals, particularly those related to improving maternal health, reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS and ensuring access to clean water.”
Dr. Peter Allen, CEO, Ministry of Health “In 2011 for the very first time in our history we became I think the only country in the region to achieve zero maternal deaths, this is MDG number five and again there are so many things that go into making pregnancy successful and safe; from the good staff and the good care providers who clean our hospitals to the mid wives and of course the doctors, it is a remarkable achievement.”
But while we show a significant improvement in mother and child health, UN Represent Coordinator, Roberto Valent, says that it has not been a good scorecard for Belize in the other areas of the Development Goals.
Roberto Valent, UN Resident Coordinator “These are areas that fall under the poverty reduction and the gender issues. It is important that the next Mayors, the next parliamentarians also integrate women, women are 52% of the population, how can it be that there is not one woman within the parliament, how could it be that there is not even one woman as minister. It is extremely important that the skills and the human capital that is women is also being reflected within power structures.”
Erwin Contreras, Minister of Economic Development “I’m referring to the challenges we face in relation to poverty reduction, employment generation, access to sanitation and gender equality. “
But while the road to achieving all eight Millennium Development Goals is still a few years away, Minister Contreras says that not only achieving, but exceeding the goals is possible and all it takes, he said is collaboration among all.
Erwin Contreras, Minister of Economic Development “In 2015 if we all work together, government, civil society, the private sector, development partners, the media and all stakeholders, Belize would be in an even better, fairer and a more developed nation. Achieving the goals will require equitable and inclusive economic growth, growth that reaches everyone, growth that will enable all people, especially the poor and marginalized to benefit from economic opportunities.”
“Eight Goals: One Nation … Belize accelerates progress towards the Millennium Development Goals”
Net school enrolment has significantly increased reaching 95 percent in 2011
The target of reducing the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015 has already been achieved
Maternal deaths have been brought to zero in 2011
Access to clean water has been ensured
However, challenges remain particularly in relation to poverty reduction, employment generation, access to sanitation and gender equality.
(Belmopan, 31 January, 2012) – Today at the Central Campus of the University of Belize in the nation’s capital, the “Belize Scorecard and Outlook Report 2010″, in relation to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was released, revealing that Belize has made significant progress in the last years towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) particularly those related to improving maternal health, reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS and ensuring access to clean water.
The country has already met the target of reducing the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015, and aims to further improve it, and it has made significant progress on universal access to primary education, particularly in relation to net enrolment reaching 95 percent in 2011. Other areas of success are related to maternal health, in which the country has succeeded in bringing to zero the number of maternal deaths and in ensuring and improving access to clean water to both urban and the rural communities. Belize, the report says, has also made remarkable progress in reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.
As a representative of the local water authority, Ms. Marie Aleman, provided an overview of the development of the Big Falls Water system explaining how good management of the System is positively impacting the village, “..The tank is washed quarterly and super chlorinated annually…The system is monitored and well maintained…We ensure that a new pump is on hand for when the need arises.” She further stated that “…Besides promoting health practices, water borne diseases are prevented such as diarrhoea, skin infections, vomiting etc…Villagers are satisfied with the service provided and the rates we charge…”.
Still, much is yet to be done…
Belize still faces some challenges particularly in relation to poverty reduction, employment generation, ensuring access to improved sanitation and the mainstreaming of gender across development planning and programming. Going forward, Belize will need to continue its efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
Hon. Erwin Contreras, Minister of Economic Development, Commerce and Industry, and Consumer Protection, who launched the Report, reaffirmed Belize’s commitment to the MDGs and stressed the importance of joining forces and of unity when looking ahead. “When celebrating success it is important to remind ourselves that progress belongs to everyone. It is the result of our joint commitment and efforts and of our shared vision for the future of Belize.”
In the last two years the Government of Belize has addressed some of the challenges brought to light by the analysis of the Report through innovative projects, programmes and legislation, including the approval of the National Integrated Water Resources Act and the work on the MDGs Acceleration Framework which puts Belize on target to ensure access to potable water.
The “Building Opportunities for Social Transformation Initiative” launched in 2010, the “Quality School Initiative”, and the “Conditional Cash Transfer Programme”, are examples of recent successes in addressing human development.
Roberto Valent, UN Resident Coordinator in his overview on the MDGs stated that “the monitoring of MDGs progress is a crucial element of any effective MDGs national strategy, as it enables national legislators to (i) be more aware of the local challenges, (ii) to identify the key priorities, (iii) to draw from best practices with the ultimate goal of reaching out effectively to the most vulnerable groups.”
The “Belize Scorecard and Outlook Report 2010″, has been elaborated by the Government of Belize with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The Report was launched today at the University of Belize with the presence of Hon. Erwin Contreras, Minister of Economic Development, Commerce and Industry, and Consumer Protection, Mr. Roberto Valent, UN Resident Coordinator, Dr. Cary Fraser, President, University of Belize; representatives from the various Ministries, including Labour, Local Government and Rural Development; Health; Human Development and Social Transformation; Natural Resources and Environment; as well as from civil society.
About the MDGs:
The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – form a blueprint agreed to by the world’s leaders and all leading development institutions. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest people.