Antigua and BarbudaWhen people think of Antigua and Barbuda, they imagine the white sand beaches, high-end hotels and crystal clear water. What most people don’t think of is their healthcare system, and that’s reasonable. However, Antigua has done a fine job using its tourism-driven economy to provide for its citizens, unlike many other tourist islands. As a result, this small collection of islands in the West Indies is a special one.

Health for the Citizens

Most health care in Antigua is free through the Medical Benefits Scheme, which is paid for by a payroll tax that sets aside revenue for the health system. In 2014, the health sector received 2.77% of the country’s GDP. Considering that they are a collection of small islands, that percentage goes a long way. Antigua has 25 public health clinics with services ranging from dentistry to testing for NCDs (non-communicable diseases). The major hospital on the island is St. John’s Medical Centre in St. John, Antigua. They also have a much smaller extension of the hospital in Barbuda that holds eight beds. However, the number of health centers is growing with the improvement of infrastructure.

Natural Disasters and Diseases

Antigua and Barbuda has had a history of natural disasters plaguing their island from Hurricane Hugo in 1989 to Hurricane Irma in 2017. Irma left Barbuda uninhabited for the first time in modern history, and the population of Barbuda evacuated to Antigua. The effects of these hurricanes go past evacuating the island. They threaten the island’s food security, quality of water, tourism and even health of citizens. Though they’ve had many challenges, diseases are not very prevalent on the islands. Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS affect less than 1% of the population.

Mother and Child Health

Additionally, at St. John’s Medical Centre, maternal health is a serious issue. Trained personnel deliver the babies, and all expenses are covered for the mother. The hospital got even better after three maternal deaths between 2010 and 2015 by providing more services and increasing patient education. Sadly, the Antigua and Barbuda did not reach the target of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) in 2014. While the target is 8 deaths per 1,000 live births, the country’s data was 17.2 deaths per 1,000 births. Most of these deaths occur in the neonatal period and are caused by common things like injuries and prematurity.

World Health Organization Cooperation

Many agencies have provided cooperation in health on the islands throughout the years. The WHO/PAHO has continued to help through funded projects and other initiatives. The WHO currently has the Country Cooperation Strategy in place, which will be in effect until 2024. The five priorities of WHO reveal its main areas of focus. Their first priority is to establish a more universal healthcare system, getting coverage for more citizens. The main way the WHO will achieve this goal is by strengthening the Primary Health Care (PHC) to better align with the citizens’ needs. Priority two deals with the elimination of diseases and NCDs. Priority three focuses on reducing risk. By integrating mental health and substance abuse in the PHC, implementing measures for reducing NCD cases is all part of their plan.

Overall, Antigua is not just special because of its world-famous beaches. These collections of islands care more about the healthcare and well being of their citizens than most countries combined. Thinking about healthcare in Antigua and Barbuda may not be the most interesting thing. However, it gives insight into a country not normally talked about. Although it is plagued by hurricanes every few years, it still manages to take care of its citizens in the best way it can.

Bailey Sparks
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is a small nation in the Caribbean including several islands. Many consider it to be one of the most prosperous countries in the area and it boasts relatively good social indicators. That does not mean that its people have completely escaped the troubles of everyday life that come with residing in a developing country, though. Despite its high standing within the Caribbean it still does not compare well with the rest of the world. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Antigua and Barbuda will shed a light on the country’s struggles as well as the progress it has made and what impact that has on its citizens.

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Antigua and Barbuda

  1. Life Expectancy is Improving: Life expectancy for the people of Antigua and Barbuda is 72.3 years old. This is one of the strongest indicators of the steady progress that the country is making. Since 1960, there has been an enormous jump from the previous life expectancy of 52.5 according to the World Bank.
  2. Infant Mortality is Improving: Infant mortality rates are improving but still stand at almost double those of many western countries. UNICEF reported that the current infant mortality rate for children under the age of 5 stands at 7.4 deaths per 1,000 births. This shows great improvement considering that the infant mortality rate was over triple that number in 1990 at 26.3 deaths per 1,000 births.
  3. The Country is Susceptible to Natural Disaster: A Caribbean country, Antigua and Barbuda faces the constant threat of hurricanes. A semi-recent hurricane to hit the country was Hurricane Irma which caused mass devastation. While the country did not suffer massive numbers of casualties, injuries and displacement were rampant. The country was still facing the damage years later resulting in Prime Minister Gaston Browne proposing a complete rehaul of the landowning system in an effort to rebuild the country’s destroyed property.
  4. Poverty is Prevalent: There is still a relatively large amount of poverty within the country. The Headcount Index places 18.3 percent of the population of Antigua and Barbuda as being below the poverty line. Around 3.7 percent of the population falls within the indigent population and another 10 percent is vulnerable. Estimates put the poverty line in Antigua and Barbuda at $2,366 puts into perspective the lack of income that such a large portion of the population lives on. Despite these grim numbers, Antigua and Barbuda still ranks among the most well perfuming Caribbean nations with the second-lowest poverty rate. While little new data is available, an optimist might take continued economic growth as a sign that things have been improving.
  5. Unemployment Rates are High: Reports stated that the unemployment rate in 2011 was 10.2 percent with a breakdown of 11.2 percent of men being unemployed and 9.4 percent of women being unemployed. The biggest age bracket falls within the 15-25 range and no doubt contributes to the relatively high aforementioned poverty rates.
  6. Nourishment is Varied:  Antigua and Barbuda does not guarantee nourishment to every citizen. Data collected in different areas of Antigua and Barbuda showed a major discrepancy with nourishment between those areas. When looking at the percentage of children malnourished over 12 months in two different cities, Bendals and Clare Hall, 1.2 percent of children in Bendals were malnourished, while 10.3 percent of children in Clare Hall were malnourished. The country is has continued to address this issue and in 2013, the Zero Hunger Challenge advertised as an advocacy tool for irradiating world hunger by the Food and Agriculture Organization, which is the leading U.N. agency fighting hunger.
  7. Water Shortages are an Issue: As a Caribbean nation, Antigua and Barbuda has not escaped the water shortage that the entire area is facing. As of 2015, the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) made it known that the country did not have consistent access to running water. In 2017, Antigua and Barbuda was among 37 countries predicted to have “extremely high” levels of water stress.
  8. Health Care has Potential: The government of Antigua and Barbuda provides 100 percent of the population with health care with a reported 2.77 percent of the GDP going towards public health. The publicly financed system provides maternal and child health, community mental health and dental care. While the country provides some care, several tourists have expressed dissatisfaction with the public health care system, which highlights that there might still be more room for further improvement.
  9. Educational Trends are Promising: Not only are primary and secondary school completely free, but they are also compulsory. This no doubt plays a part in the adult literacy rate of 98 percent for those above the age of 15. For context, the Caribbean has an overall adult literacy rate of just 71 percent, well below that of Antigua and Barbuda.
  10. Incentives to Eliminate the Top Killers: Antigua and Barbuda has had the same four leading causes of death for over 10 years. Those four are heart disease, stroke, diabetes and respiratory infections. While there is little clear data on the causes of these diseases in Antigua and Barbuda specifically, medical professionals often attribute them to poor diet, air quality, and access. There have been incentives to improve health care as well as education in the country.

A small nation with a small population of 105,000 people, people often overlook Antigua and Barbuda when addressing the global issues of poverty. However, it is important to realize that people should not overlook any nation and these 10 facts about life expectancy in Antigua and Barbuda are just a snapshot into the progress and problems the country is addressing.

– Samira Darwich
Photo: Max Pixel

Top Ten Facts About Living Conditions in Antigua and Barbuda

With people inhabiting the islands as early as 2400 B.C., Antigua and Barbuda have a rich history. First conquered by Spanish and French settlements in the late 15th century, the islands were later established as an English colony in the 1600s and didn’t gain their independence within the British Commonwealth of Nations until 1981. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Antigua and Barbuda.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Antigua and Barbuda

  1. The government spends an estimated 2.5 percent of its GDP on education, with 91 percent of students enrolled completing the primary seven years of mandated education. Males are estimated to spend an average of 12 years in school, and females 13. Interestingly, the ratio of females to males continuing their education past secondary school is two to one.
  2. While the islands are technically independent, they still operate under a constitutional monarchy, meaning that British Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Rodney Williams, is still their head of state. However, there is also a Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, and two legislative houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives, which is permitted by the constitution.
  3. Antigua and Barbuda are both destination and transportation countries for human trafficking, both sex trafficking and forced labor. Reports of sex trafficking in the form of prostitution have been described as occurring in bars and brothels, while forced labor is not as easy to spot, often seen in domestic and retail sectors. While the islands are not known for making valiant efforts to eliminate human trafficking, improvements in cases being taken seriously have been made in recent years.
  4. Tourism is a huge source of the islands’ GDP, as is common in the Caribbean region. Making up 60 percent of the roughly $2.4 billion GDP, it should come as no surprise that 80 percent of the labor force is in the service industry.
  5. While colonized by the British, sugarcane became a massive export of Antigua’s. Slavery was used as a means to speed up the exportation process. After the emancipation of these slaves in the nineteenth century, many Antiguan inhabitants developed a desire for self-governance, while others wished to form likenesses with other Caribbean nations.
  6. Driving is the most common form of transportation in Antigua and Barbuda, with taxis used extensively, and many drivers even taking tourists on sightseeing excursions. Bus systems are in place but rarely used. Additionally, local boats and ferries run often, and there are flights between Antigua and Barbuda.
  7. Those native to the islands tend to be relatively healthy, with life expectancies for men at around 75 years, and females 79 years. 5.5 percent of the country’s GDP is spent on health, ensuring that about 91 percent of the population had access to proper sanitation centers as of 2011.
  8. While the unemployment rate across Antigua and Barbuda is 11 percent, those who have stable incomes have become accustomed to modern technology, and are relatively well established. In 2008, it was reported that 97 percent of households had televisions sets, and in 2013, for every 1,000 people, there were 1,271 mobile phone subscriptions.
  9. Aside from tourism, the main labor categories on the island are industry and agriculture. The main agricultural products include cotton, fruits and vegetables, sugarcane and livestock. The main industries include the obvious tourism, construction and light manufacturing of items such as clothing and alcohol.
  10. Antigua and Barbuda have no major international disputes and maintain fairly peaceful. They have a variety of export partners, including Poland, Cameroon, the U.S. and the U.K. They import mainly from the U.S. and Spain.

Bearing these top 10 facts about Antigua and Barbuda in mind, it’s easy to see why so many people are drawn to these Caribbean islands. With such a rich history to delve into, locals are eager to show off the culture and beauty the country has to offer. Without the romanticization of many tourist websites, these top 10 facts about Antigua and Barbuda give a brief overview of different aspects of the islands.

– Emi Cormier
Photo: Google Images

Causes of Poverty in Antigua and BarbudaBoasting gorgeous beaches and pale blue water, Antigua and Barbuda is a popular hub for tourism, making it one of the most economically successful nations in the Caribbean. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism comprises 60.4 percent of Antigua and Barbuda’s GDP. Despite the influx of tourism-related wealth, 22 percent of the islands’ occupants live below the poverty line, raising the question: what are the causes of poverty in Antigua and Barbuda?

While tourism has undoubtedly boosted Antigua and Barbuda‘s economy, generating 54.3 percent of the nation’s total employment, the unique temporality of the tourism industry has left some citizens in the lurch. People working in the tourism industry have a reliable income during the tourist season. However, these individuals find themselves unemployed during the off-season and unable to afford basic necessities for parts of the year.

Demographics also play a role in the poverty status of people living in Antigua and Barbuda. Women in Antigua and Barbuda are employed in private sector and tourism jobs even more than men, and are less likely to be poverty-afflicted compared with women in other developing nations. However, single mothers shouldering the unshared financial burdens of parenthood are still exceptionally vulnerable to life below the poverty line. Poor households typically have 5.2 children, while more affluent households average only 2.8 children. Over a third of Antigua and Barbuda’s population living in food poverty is under the age of 14.

Overcrowded living situations correlate with insufficient resources, such that poor families often cannot afford to send their children to school, making these children more vulnerable to poverty in adulthood. A primary school education reduces the probability of poverty by 91 percent.

While statistics reflecting the poverty status of young people in Antigua and Barbuda may seem disheartening, UNICEF is confident that the prevalence of poverty in the nation’s younger demographic may actually help effectively aim poverty prevention efforts. By targeting families with more children, UNICEF hopes to provide aid to those who need it most. Additionally, the organization has proposed school feeding programs to provide proper nutrition to children living in food poverty.

While the causes of poverty in Antigua and Barbuda function at personal levels like employment and family size, there are also larger factors such as flawed infrastructure, which makes public facilities and social services difficult for citizens to access. Infrastructural weaknesses are particularly threatening for nations like Antigua and Barbuda, which is vulnerable to environmental catastrophes such as hurricanes.

On September 5, Hurricane Irma devastated Antigua and Barbuda. Barbuda was left in shambles, and nearly all its inhabitants have lost their homes. Prime Minister Gaston Browne immediately implored the world for aid contributions, and the Red Cross has already provided over $120,000 to support disaster relief efforts throughout the Caribbean. However, much more aid is still needed to help those who have been affected regain and rebuild their lives. Many organizations have already rallied to assist the people in need.

Mary Efird

Photo: Flickr

Water Shortage In Antigua & Barbuda

Caribbean countries have suffered in recent years from a prolonged drought, forcing them to implement new methods to control the use of water in their nations. One country in the Caribbean that has suffered from this prolonged drought is Antigua & Barbuda (A&B).

Despite the current situation, the future is starting to look up for the citizens of this country, as new programs have been started to address the issue of the continued water shortage in A&B.

The Plan:
One program the A&B government has implemented in the past few years has been the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA). The goal of APUA is to act as a water rationing program to ensure that all citizens receive adequate amounts of water until the drought begins to go away.

However, as the drought continues, authorities involved with the APUA have struggled to find a solution to the water shortage in A&B. One authority stated in an interview that “as Antigua and Barbuda enter further into a drought, the APUA has seen a depletion of the surface water resources that it relies heavily on.”

The rate of water consumption in A&B has continued to put pressure on the APUA and their ability to provide adequate amounts of water for its citizens. A statement by the APUA reported that authorities told the public that they only had enough water left in their largest containment unit to get the country through the month of February, if they did not see an increase in rainfall.

The APUA has since tried to deal with the issue of the continued water shortage by only providing water at certain times during the day. Although APUA can provide its citizens with enough water to sustain themselves by using this strategy, this work cannot continue for much longer.

The Takeaway:
The issue of a water shortage in A&B is a matter that appears to have no clear solution. The drought continues to be problematic, and the APUA’s task of providing adequate water to all its citizens has not been so simple. The best thing one can do at this moment in time for the people of A&B would be to donate money to organizations or volunteer time to NGOs – which are working alongside APUA to address the issue of the water shortage.

Although the circumstances for those in A&B have been grim, there is hope for the future of these people. Continued effort from the APUA and NGOs should provide increasing relief to the citizens suffering from the effects of the drought.

Nick Beauchamp
Photo: Flickr

Top Diseases in Antigua and Barbuda
The country of Antigua and Barbuda currently has the fourth-lowest mortality rate in the Caribbean region. Despite a lower mortality rate, in this small country of 90,755 people, communicable diseases are some of the most deadly. Diarrhea and lower respiratory infections are the most common diseases, followed by the highly infectious HIV/AIDS virus, which affects 2.2% of the population and is one of the top diseases in Antigua and Barbuda.

Because HIV/AIDS is responsible for 19.4% of deaths in Antigua and Barbuda, the government has taken direct action to prevent, treat, and inform people of the disease.

In 2001, Antigua and Barbuda officially called upon the United States for a systematic global response to the HIV/AIDS virus—a plea that was met with generous funding for HIV antiretroviral drugs available to the country for increased accessible treatment. Further, the U.S. and other external agencies including the U.N. Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program (CAREC) assisted the country in attaining accessible HIV testing to all individuals. Since then, the HIV/AIDS-awareness response in the country has grown tremendously, though the government still faces hardship in preventing one of the top diseases in Antigua and Barbuda.

In 2013, the HIV mortality rate had increased by an alarming 183 percent since 1990, and in 2015, the country, unfortunately, saw 48 new cases of diagnosed HIV in both males and females between 20 and 60 years of age.

The good news is that the country’s government provides continuous HIV/AIDS treatment and care services for free and operates from its own national response team with some help from outside relief organizations.

In 2015, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), tested and counseled more than 3,000 people in the Caribbean region and provided preventative, comprehensive and evidence-based interventions for more than 7,000 individuals. Progress like this proves that preventative care and external aid, paired with $22 million in funding to the region in 2016, has led to great success in combating one of the top diseases in Antigua and Barbuda.

Internal efforts to combat the disease have dramatically increased the speed of treatment and prevention in the country as well. In 2015, the Barbuda Council collaborated with agencies such as Antigua State College, Community Development Division and AIDS Secretariat and Partners, to host 36 HIV awareness programs. Among these were multiple counseling sessions including testing and distribution of informational materials and health fairs encouraging the education of HIV prevention.

Additionally, the government now provides a clinical care team to all patients, and health care providers receive training for new HIV Care and Treatment Guidelines.

Furthermore, the country is working to overcome challenges of treating HIV, such as limited data on people most at risk, by attempting to increase HIV testing for all people and preparing to mobilize HIV assessment and care into primary health care.

Because of relief efforts both inside and outside the country, the disease is becoming less prevalent. For example, premature deaths due to the virus decreased by 28.9 percent between 2005 and 2015. It is the government’s ambitious programming and training for the population that should continually decrease the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Antigua and Barbuda.

Olivia Cyr

Photo: Flickr