Second National Height Census of School Children conducted in Belize on 12 May 2009
The Second National Height Census of School Children in Belize was conducted on May 12, 2009. Over 9,000 Standard One children throughout the country of Belize were measured to determine their height in relation to their age. The census was carried out by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the National Committee for Families & Children, and UNICEF. Technical support was provided by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization, the Institute of Nutrition for Central America and Panama (INCAP) and the Regional Program on Food and Nutrition Security, PRESANCA.
The first National Height Census of school children in Belize was carried out in 1996. In that census, a total of 22,426 school children aged six to nine years old from 262 primary schools country-wide were studied. The results showed that growth retardation was observed in 15.4 per cent of children at the national level. Height for Age measurements show linear growth, express the height of children in relation to their age and reveal stunting or growth retardation. This index is mainly used to identify chronic malnutrition and is also a reflection of socio-economic and environmental factors that influence their growth.
Instruments for the height census were adapted and standardized for use in Belize. Teachers, nurses, and support personnel were trained on how to take the measurements utilizing these instruments. The information collected from schools will be collated, and the level of growth retardation in each school, community, and district, as well as at the national level, will be computed.
children being measured
Information from the Second National Height Census of School Children in Belize will be used as an advocacy tool and to develop social interventions for at-risk communities. The information is critical to the development of poverty maps and will provide the evidence needed to assign resources to specific regions and support poverty alleviation. The results will also support the design and evaluation of policies, and provide baseline information to improve food and nutrition security in Belize.