2 and a half weeks ago, when the Ministry of Health announced that the Government would subsidize hemodialysis treatments for 88 Belizeans suffering from kidney failure, Minister Pablo Marin called for a ban on soft drinks in schools countrywide.
The premise is that right now children are being given access to unhealthy food and sugary drinks, which is helping to promote unhealthy eating habits which lead to chronic lifestyle diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, heart problems and even kidney failure.
You'll remember that Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber, who is the Minister of Education, was very receptive to the idea. Today, we asked Marin if any progress has been made on this proposed ban. Here's what he had to say:
Hon. Pablo Marin- Minister of Health
"One day before he had already put a post on his Facebook stating that we need to do something about all those sugar soft drinks and food that we are selling to the children; we are working on it. This Friday we are supposed to have the first meeting with Ministry of Education to see if we need to pass an SI and what we need to do and steps for us to ban it in the schools and the colleges."
"Are you foreseeing any conflict with companies like Bowen and Bowen who are some of the main providers of soft drinks in Belize?"
Hon. Pablo Marin
"I don't have anything with them to say. I know that as Mr. of Health, more now that I am the pro-temp president of COMISCA, we have that in our mandate for us to reduce the sugary drinks and foods to our children. We need to do a lot of preventative measures now and that is one of them. I think you all saw that I signed an MOU with the mayors across the country because we want to promote a healthy lifestyle and I don't care what provider it is for the sugary drinks. I wish, and I ask cabinet for us to tax a little to any sugary drink or food for us to be able to put that on health, for us to be able to give better services to our people. Because that is what is making our children obese, making our children have diabetes, our people have diabetes, have problems with kidney failure, heart failure; and these are non-communicable diseases that we can fight and the media can help us also for us to be able to promote a healthy lifestyle."