Health in Belize
Belize, a country in Central America, is located on the Atlantic coast with a population of 359,000. The male life expectancy at birth is 68 years and for females is 73 years of age. The population is relatively young with 34% under the age of 15. Approximately 6% of the people are over 60 years old. Women have, on average, 2.7 children in their lifetime. People are more likely to live in rural areas here, with only 44% of the population living in urban zones. This article takes a look at the leading causes of death in this Belize.
Leading Causes of Death
Diabetes tops the list as the number 1 killer in Belize. Of all deaths occurring annually, 9.5% can be attributed to this disease. Diabetes can be a genetically inherited disease but can also be prevented through an active lifestyle and healthy diet. Traditional Belizean dishes tend to be very high in fat and carbohydrates which are converted into sugars in the body and can contribute to insulin resistance. Current estimates suggest that as much as 13% of the population lives with diabetes.
Ischemic Heart Disease
Ischemic heart disease ranks second in the list of leading causes of death in the country. This disease is often accompanied by diabetes and can be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices. Belize reports that 7.7% of its deaths are related to this disease every year. Heart disease occurs when blood flow cannot easily reach the heart; this is usually caused by an obstruction in the blood vessels. The result is often a heart attack. Underlying factors with this condition include poor diet, excessive alcohol consumption, and high blood pressure.
The third leading cause of death is not a health disease, surprisingly. Instead, 7.6% of all deaths in Belize are due to homicide, or the intentional infliction of personal injury. This gives Belize the third highest murder rate of any country in the world. The police force, although trained by the US FBI, lacks the resources necessary to have a constant presence in all places around the country, particularly in the rural areas. Additionally, they do not have the necessary equipment to effectively investigate the vast number of murders occurring every year. In fact, they are only able to convict people in 3% of murder cases.
This was just a list of the top 3 causes of death. For more information, take a look at the table below.
Health Care in Belize
Belize has both a private and public healthcare system. The private health sector, as is usually the case, is more expensive and therefore inaccessible for many people residing in the country. It is the public healthcare system that provides the majority of health services. The country has recently become involved in analyzing its current healthcare system and determining what services and programs would be best to counter the state of disease and illness among its population. The objective based on its analysis is to improve access to and quality of healthcare received as well as ensure equitable distribution of services.
The Ministry of Health is currently implementing a National Health Insurance plan. Unfortunately, much of the funding designated for national healthcare has been assigned to the urban areas. This means that individuals living in the most poverty and in the farthest to reach zones only have available to them out of date equipment and a lack of medical professionals, a far cry from equitable distribution. The healthcare facilities in the cities suffer from a lack of resources as well and many times are without basic medical supplies. Government officials would be wise to conduct a new analysis of the current reality in the country and draft updated policies and public health goals.
Leading Causes Of Death In Belize
|Rank||Cause||% Of Death (2010)|
|2||Ischemic heart disease||7.7|
|3||Homicide and injury purposely inflicted||7.6|
|6||Diseases of pulmonary circulation and other forms of heart disease||4.0|
|7||Other chronic pulmonary diseases||3.8|
|8||Acute respiratory infections||3.7|