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.

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