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“Heart disease killed more people in 2018 than violence,” says Ministry of Health

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Posted: Monday, December 30, 2019. 5:17 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: Today, the Ministry of Health (MOH) released the cause of death statistics for the year 2018, which named “diseases of the heart” as the number one killer of Belizeans last year.

The list shows the top 10 causes of deaths as well as breaking the data down by sex and by district. Heart diseases killed a total of 259
people last year, followed by cancers, which claimed some 213 lives. Diabetes was the third-most prevalent cause of death, accounting for 192 deaths, while homicide was the fourth-largest, with 138 deaths.

Our newsroom spoke with Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero, who said that the ministry is looking at all the conditions
on the list comprehensively to better understand the situation driving the casualties behind them.

He noted that the ministry has various measures in place to educate the public on the dangers of lifestyle practices that lead to these
conditions and even some interventions such as a Cabinet paper on the banning of soft drinks in primary and secondary schools.

He stressed that when the ministry gets around to implementing interventions such as the soda ban, there will be a degree of push-back from the public.

“Oftentimes people will say, ‘hey, this is my  body and I consume whatI want,” Manzanero said.

He stressed that the 2019 cause of death numbers are still being tabulated but initial indications show that the figures may be
comparable to the 2018 data, underscoring a cultural shift that needs to take place if these conditions are to be addressed.

“Prevention really starts at home. We have a tendency to blame when we have cases of hypertension and diabetes on the failures of the health system. We need to start making the efforts individually and as a family so that we don’t go down that road where we require the health system to help us,” he added.

Men suffered more from all 10 conditions than women, and the Belize District, which is the most densely populated in the country, has the
highest prevalence rate of the causes of death on the list. Between 2014 and 2018 the causes of death on the list claimed a total of 8,985
lives.

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