Project focuses on improving children’s health and nutrition in the Toledo District

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In 2011 a group called the Japanese Social Development Fund (JSDF) in collaboration with the World Bank and the Ministry of Health in Belize embarked on a project to improve children’s health and nutrition in the Toledo District. This project mainly targets children in the most critical stage of their life which is first 2-3 years after birth. However, it also reaches out to children in the primary school level and even young and adult women. We spoke to Dr. Natalia Beer, the Maternal and Child Health Technical Adviser for the Ministry of Health, and she told us more about the strategy used to implement the project’s goals.

Doctor Natalia Beer – MCH Technical Advisor:

vlcsnap-2013-08-26-12h27m05s214We have four core components within the project.  The first one is related to “Prevent and address malnutrition in children under five years of age, by empowering the local community.”  The second component deals with “Developing a Healthy Lifestyles Program for Primary School children, during their eight years in Primary Education.”  Component three is to “Strengthen the access and quality of community-based Health Services in support of maternal and child health.”  Component number four is to “Promote behavioral change in communities, by increasing the understanding of communities’ attitudes and perceptions towards health.  The project is allowing us to come to an understanding of what are the different classes related to malnutrition, so that we can address it in a more efficient way.  We are also working towards improving the knowledge of the community leaders  and community members in relation to nutrition and how this affects children., how we can prevent malnutrition and improve the quality of life of the children.

vlcsnap-2013-08-26-12h26m20s29On Friday, the project was still underway due to the close collaboration with key partners such as the World Bank who is in Belize for this week to oversee the implementation of the JSDF grant which funds the project. Another key member in this partnership is the Toledo District Health Council who are a major part of the implementation of the project. When we spoke to Dr. Beer,  she exclaimed what a wonderful opportunity it is for children in the Toledo District. It might seem peculiar to some that the project is only focusing in the South of Belize, but Dr. Beer told us why.

Doctor Natalia Beer – MCH Technical Advisor:

If we look at the results from the Country Poverty Assessment, we can see that Toledo district has the highest level of poverty.  We know that there are some social consequences of having a population living in poverty, and one of them is poor access to quality foods that leads to malnutrition, and then all the other consequences of malnutrition.  The project definitely is focusing on who needs it more, in this case children in Toledo.

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