Survey raises critical issues for Barbados

StevenBlackett-1Bridgetown, Barbados (BGIS) — While the data compiled in the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) Report will close some of the gaps currently existing in available statistics in Barbados, the findings indicate a number of critical issues that need to be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

That was the opinion of minister of social care, constituency empowerment and community development, Steven Blackett, while speaking at the launch of the MICS Report on Wednesday.

He indicated that the first issue related to the nutritional status of Barbadian children.

“The report notes that 35 per cent of our children under age 5 are moderately underweight, while 1.5 percent is classified as severely underweight. Less than 10 percent of the children, about 7.7 percent, are moderately stunted or too short for their age and 6.8 percent are moderately wasted or too thin for their height. About 12.2 percent of children under age 5 are obese or overweight.

“Clearly, these results suggest that government, along with our stakeholders in the private sector, civil society and the NGO community, must collaborate and work assiduously in combating these challenges facing our children. This must be seen as a community effort where we as a society continue to support parents, guardians and the work of the ministries of health and education in the care, nutrition and nurturing of our children,” he contended.

Blackett also lamented the fact that the low responses of men during the pilot stage of the report meant that important information pertaining to males could not be included in the survey.

Noting that it was critical that the module for men be included in future MICS so that comparable data for men can be obtained, the minister in turn encouraged Barbadian males to be more responsive to surveys like the MICS as the information collected would assist Government to cater more fully to all Barbadians.

“Our programmes can only be successful if they are based on accurate and representative data and statistics,” he stressed.

The minister, however, thanked the Barbados Statistical Service (BSS) and the United Nations Children’s Fund for producing the report and outlined how the information could be used.

“The information presented in the report will close some of the data gaps that currently exist in available statistics on Barbados and can also be used for reporting on our progress on some of the Millennium Development Goals… It will contribute to evidence-informed plans, policies and budgets specially aimed at fulfilling the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Barbados is signatory,” he explained.

The report is also expected to strengthen the statistical capacity of the BSS, and relevant stakeholders. Women and children were surveyed on areas including: Nutrition Status, Breastfeeding, Reproductive Health, Child Development, Literacy and Education, Child Labour, Discipline, Access to Mass Media and ICT, Orphaned Children and Subjective Wellbeing.

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