Health in Saint Lucia
Hon. Alvina Reynolds
Minister for Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations
Saint Lucia has made significant strides in improving the health status of the population. The health sector has realised gains through:
• increasing life expectancy to about 74 years for males and 79 years for females (2010)
• high rates of immunisation coverage (99%)
• decreasing the incidence of communicable diseases
• declining infant mortality (15 per 1,000) and maternal mortality ratio (0.54 per 100,000)
• 99% of all births attended by a skilled health professional
• improving the nutritional status of children
• reducing illness and death due to AIDS and increasing the life expectancy and quality of life for persons living with HIV/AIDS
• expanding health and social services
• introducing an integrated model to address a continuum of care options, ranging from promoting health and well-being, to providing specialized inpatient services at the Saint Lucia National Mental Wellness Center
• improvements to physical infrastructure:
- construction of the New National Hospital (European Union)
– construction of New Home for the Aged (Government of Saint Lucia)
– construction of the Transit Home for Children (Government of Saint Lucia)
– rehabilitation and renovations of health centers (World Bank, Caribbean Development Bank, Saint Lucia Social Development Fund)
• situating wellness facilities within a three mile radius of where persons work and live
• strengthening and expanding health services programs
• introducing a Health Management Information System
• commencing a national quality management framework
• reviewing Health Sector Legislation
• procuring a Human Resource technical advisor to assist and build capacity in the development of the plan for human resources for health.
Against the backdrop of these gains, there are many challenges to meeting the health needs of the population.
Some of these challenges include:
• effects of the recent global financial, economic and food crises
• effects of climate change
• inadequate human and financial resources
• increased severity of natural disasters
• reduction in the level of international aid
• increasing levels of chronic non-communicable diseases and related complications.
The Ministry has been utilising a health systems approach to addressing healthcare issues in the country. This approach was clearly articulated in the Ministry’s National Strategic Plan for Health 2006-11. The plan seeks to address weaknesses in the healthcare system, and is guided by the principles of the Primary Health Care Approach (equity, solidarity and ethics) to ensure that the health system responds more effectively and efficiently to the needs of the population. Strengthening the health system will provide the Ministry of Health with the tools to assess, design, monitor and sustain an effective and efficient sectorial response to the health needs and health challenges of the population.
Saint Lucia is part of the Windward Islands group, which form an arc jutting out from the Eastern Caribbean into the Atlantic. It lies south of Dominica and north of Barbados.
The hot tropical climate is moderated all year round by the north-east trade winds. The dry season is January to April, the rainy season May to November.
Environment: The most significant environmental issues are deforestation and soil erosion, particularly in the north of the island.
181,000 (2012); 17 per cent of people live in urban areas. The population growth rate stood at 1.2 per cent p.a.
between the years 1990 and 2012. In 2012 the birth rate at 16 per 1,000 people (41 in 1970) and life expectancy was 75 years (64 in 1970).
Saint Lucia’s population is mostly of mixed African and European descent.
Saint Lucia is classified and an upper-middle-income economy by the World Bank.
Joined Commonwealth: 1979
Population: 181,000 (2012)
GDP per capita growth: 1.3% p.a. 1990–2012
GNI per capita: US$6,890 (2012)
UN HDI 2012 ranking: 88 out of 186 counties
Life expectancy: 75 years (2012)
Under-five mortality rate (per 1,000 live births): 18 (2012)
Largest contribution to mortality: Non-communicable diseases
Government health expenditure: 3.5% of GDP (2011)