Health in Seychelles

Hon. Mitcy Larue

Minister of Health

The Republic of Seychelles is a small island developing state with a big vision for its country and people. The Government has spared no effort and investment towards the improvement of its people’s wellbeing, social and health status. The Government of Seychelles provides free health service to the entire population, from cradle to grave, and has very strong policies and programmes for early childhood, children, youth and the elderly. This principle is enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Seychelles and the Health Policy Declaration, which underscores the principles of basic human rights and health equity.
With this foundation and since the Alma Ata declaration on primary healthcare in 1978, tremendous investments have gone into primary prevention towards reducing the overall disease burden. This approach to health has led to most communicable diseases becoming under control in less than three decades.
Seychelles is now at an important crossroads where the epidemiological shift from communicable to noncommunicable diseases is posing new and significant challenges. The so-called lifestyle diseases or diseases of the affluent are now plaguing the nation and putting extreme strains on precious resources. The cost of treating lifestyle related diseases are huge and keep escalating. This is denting the Ministry’s resource pool and threatens to offset the resource allocation balance away from primary prevention.

Our statistics and health indicators speak for themselves and can be accessed on the Ministry of Health website. Such achievements have come about due to long-term sustained Government commitment to the provision of quality healthcare and a pool of dedicated and well trained healthcare professionals. The constant supports of our multilateral and bilateral partners have not gone unnoticed either towards this end. Our MDG status report of 2010 clearly indicates that Seychelles is well on track for meeting the set health targets and we are now looking beyond.
The private sector is also playing a key role in improving access to healthcare and the opening up of the economy in the reform process that started three years ago has seen an improvement in both the variety and quality of services available to the people.

In spite of this improved health status of the country, a multitude of challenges remain pervasive. Being ranked as an upper-middle-income country has affected Seychelles eligibility to certain global funding opportunities. Retaining trained human resources in the health sector is a real dilemma when a richer private sector and developed countries are pulling so hard on the public sector. The upward trend in HIV and Hepatitis C prevalence, the latter often linked to intravenous drug use, remain worrying.

Being a small country with a fragile economy makes us more vulnerable to all sort of external influences, not the least being market forces and other pressures compared to countries with sounder resource footing. In this respect, support from organisations such as the Commonwealth and other UN agencies are most valued. It is my plea and that of the people of Seychelles that such organisations remain sensitive and responsive to the needs of small islands developing states such as ours.