MOHW tackles adolescent health and development

by Khaila Gentle

BELIZE CITY, Fri September 9, 2022

The Ministry of Health and Welfare has developed and launched a national strategy to address adolescent health and development. The National Adolescent Health Strategic Plan 2019-2030 outlines the steps the ministry will take in what Dr Natalia Beer calls a holistic approach to adolescent wellbeing that goes far beyond illness and health care.

Beer, who is a technical advisor for maternal and child health at the Ministry of Health and Welfare, spoke to the media on Friday and explained that the national strategy took almost three years to develop.

“For a few years before the pandemic hit Belize, the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with other line ministries and partners, we met and worked on the development of the National Strategic Plan for Health teenagers and we finalized it in 2019,” she said.

The plan was successfully developed through a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Health; the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology (MoECST); the Ministry of Human Development, Family and Indigenous Peoples, and a number of youth organizations and United Nations agencies.

“We have three results under the plan. The first is to improve access to services… The second outcome talks about reducing risky behaviors among adolescents, and we know that the most important thing is to increase access to information to help them make decisions. better decisions. And then the last one is about the safe and nurturing environments where teenagers grow up,” Dr Beer said.

Adolescents, or those between the ages of ten and nineteen, make up almost a quarter of the country’s population and, according to a UNICEF report, they are particularly underserved by health programs in Belize. The new strategic plan aims to address this as well as many critical health issues, such as mental health, teenage pregnancy, sexual and gun violence, and traffic accidents, to name a few- one. It also seeks to improve opportunities for positive adolescent development and also focuses on the areas of education, sports, and several others.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Belize is among the first countries to develop a national adolescent health strategic plan under the guidance of the United Nations Accelerating Action for Adolescent Health Strategy. WHO.

One of the highlights of developing the plan, Dr. Beer said, is that teenagers from across the country were involved in formulating the plan.

“We held consultations with them, and then we heard from them what their problems were. We heard from them about possible recommendations to address these issues, and that’s how we came up with the plan. So the plan is put together in such a way that when the teenager reads the document, they go through it from start to finish, because it’s about adolescence,” she said.

According to Dr Beer, the plan has been developed in such a way that it can be seen as a living document, which can be revisited after 2030 to allow further planning for the future.

The full National Adolescent Health Strategic Plan 2019-2030 can be viewed on the UNICEF website at https://www.unicef.org/belize/reports/adolescent-health-national- strategic-plan-2019-2030.

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