Research shows that the country’s health programmes are not reaching the adolescent population. As a result, there is a high rate of teen pregnancy, sexual-transmitted disease, and obesity. These are causes for concern since it hinders their ability to attain their full potential. Last week, the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, PAHO and UNFPA met to address the issue in the hopes of coming up with a solution. Love News spoke with Dr. Susan Kasedde, UNICEF Representative in Belize who spoke about the condition of adolescent health in Belize.
Dr. Susan Kasedde – UNICEF Representative in Belize: “A distinctly different pattern and a disturbing pattern for example over 60% of teenagers experience violent psychological and verbal aggression or abuse that affect their sense of emotional and physical security and their level of anxiety. We know that among teenage girls 1 in 10 of girls age 15 – 19 have had a live birth. They started on the path of parenthood which means that it is directly an event that has come from access of education and we know that over 40% are sexually active. Teenage girls 15 -19 do not have their contraceptive needs met.”
Kasedde said that PAHO has presented striking data on chronic diseases.
Dr. Susan Kasedde – UNICEF Representative in Belize: “Presented that three out of every four deaths in the Caribbean are the result of what we call non communicable diseases. These are diseases linked to lifestyle but they are also diseases that reflect in equity in terms of access to services and information. They are diseases that reflect the disparities that we have in access to services. Now these diseases are largely around 4 areas.: Cardiovascular disease, they are diabetes, cancers and then diseases of chronic respiratory conditions and some of the issues that lead up to these are excessive abuse of alcohol, Tobacco, poor diet or low or insufficient physical activity. All of these things are usually practices that start in the home and in childhood lessons and so what we know from the data in terms of mortality and the contribution of these conditions, the significant contributions of these conditions to mortality in the Caribbean really signals the need to start talking about abuse of substances, diet and physical activity but we also need to start early because these behaviors are started and enforced during childhood even though the effects of mortality is only apparent in later adulthood.”
Kasedde said that studies have shown that many children’s health deteriorate when they reach adolescence.