The number of diabetes deaths in Belize in 2009 hit 130, up from 103 reported cases in 2008, according to official health statistics from the Government of Belize. This makes diabetes the leading cause of death in Belize. In 2008, diabetes tied with murder for the #1 spot, as a record 103 murders were recorded that year, based on Police Department data.
Also interesting to note is that a total of 133 babies died before reaching the age of 1. They died mostly from hypoxia (deficiency in oxygen to the tissues), birth asphyxia (deficiency of oxygen in the blood along with an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide), and other respiratory conditions, congenital abnormalities as well as intestinal infectious diseases.
Of note is that among males in Belize, homicides and purposely inflicted injuries were blamed for the most deaths. This was especially true for youth ages 15 to 29, among whom violence is the leading cause of death. In fact, the death rate of males in this age group was more than double that of females their own age.
While the health statistics report 84 cases of violent deaths for 2009, the police had reported 97 murders for the same year. When we queried this with the Ministry of Health, we were advised that the discrepancy could be due to the different systems of classification.
The second leading cause of death in Belize in 2009 was heart disease, which killed 112 men and women.
HIV/AIDS is listed as the third leading cause of death in the country, with 101 deaths attributed to the infection, mostly of persons ages 30 to 50.
Transport accidents are ranked 9th, having claimed an average of a life every week—that is, a total of 52 transport accident deaths.
Also ranked among the top ten killers are cerebro-vascular diseases (a type of brain dysfunction), homicide and injury purposely inflicted, diseases of pulmonary circulation and other forms of heart diseases, acute respiratory infections, hypertensive diseases, transport accidents, and other chronic pulmonary disease.
The country saw 12% more deaths in 2009 over the previous year. According to data from the Ministry of Health, 1,453 people died in Belize in 2009 – this in a population estimated at 330,000. 58% of the deaths were among males. Nearly half of the deaths were of Belizeans ages 60 and over, dying from heart disease, diabetes, cerebro-vascular diseases, lung disease and hypertension.
Of note is that suicide and self-inflicted injury is listed the third leading cause of death among youth ages 15 to 19.
(The Ministry of Health, in organizing its statistics, uses the International Classification of Diseases, version 10, also known as ICD-10.)