Belize does not limit its citizenry to a one-child policy which has pretty much translated to freedom and power of choice. The Ministry of Health and United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, say that the power of choice is not only about making a choice but it is more about being equipped with the correct information and resources to make an informed choice. This morning, UNFPA in collaboration with the Ministry of Health launched its State of the World Population Report entitled “The Power of Choice Reproductive Rights and the Demographic Transition”, which focused on the power of choice available to persons by looking at the fertility trends of the different countries. Dr. Maria Pilar de La Corte Molina, the Sexual Reproductive Health Technical Advisor for UNFPA’s Sub-Regional Office of the Caribbean, says the report highlights the power to choose.
Dr. Maria Piladerdela Corte Molina Health Advisor: “Choices are about the family planning methods that you want to choose when you want to use them so some people will not have access to family planning in Belize I believe or adolescents having access to contraception in Belize. This is something that we can discuss so choices about when, how and limiting so if you have adolescents skills that don’t have access to family planning methods, maybe not and I was mentioning in the report that maybe by law but by practice so maybe the law can be very open and flexible to adolescents but by practice the health providers maybe there are barriered to provide those services to the young people maybe because they think they are too young or maybe because of their religious beliefs so even those countries with very open and flexible laws the practice is the that many people fail to have access to contraception and therefore they might have more that they wish to have.”
Molina says there isn’t any country that can boast that all of its citizens have access to reproductive rights. However, there has been a noticeable change in person’s right to choose since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development.
Dr. Maria Piladerdela Corte Molina Health Advisor: “So family size whether it is more or large is interlinked with reproductive rights and as many of you know in 1994 179 governments entered the ICPT plan of action committing to enable to make decisions about sexual reproductive health as a matter of fundamental rights. The reproductive rights made me realize that when all households can decide on the size of their family and therefore the number is placing and timing to have them.”
Dr. Natalia Beer says the high teenage pregnancy rate in the country is an indication that many adolescents are not being given the power to choose.
Dr. Natalia Beer Maternal and Child Health Technical Advisor: “Adolescent birth rate play a role especially for us in Belize since it is still high. In contributing to this total fertility rate, it’s a complex indicator that is linked to economic and social factors, social determinants where the issue highlighted in the report is the issue of choice and as we were discussing earlier choice needs to be based on information and information; to gain the knowledge, you need to receive information and the information needs to be timely and correct otherwise we end up with indicators like the adolescent birth rate that is not good for the girl, not good for the child, not good for the country.”
The report makes specific recommendations for policies and programmes to be put in place that would ensure countries increase its reproductive choices.