According to a census that the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted between 2000 and 2010, there has been an increase in life expectancy, a decrease in stillbirths and an increase in population growth in The Bahamas. Furthermore, between 2009 and 2015, the mortality rate from communicable diseases reduced by 32% per population of 100,000 followed by a 37% decline in tuberculosis and AIDS. One can attribute these improvements in the nation’s health to improvements in the National Immunization Program and the Vector Control Program, both of which tackle disease outbreaks with immediate attention to contain and suppress the spread of infections on local grounds.
As of 2010, however, the nation was still yet to resolve the risk of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, malignant neoplasm and diabetes. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are two major United Nations agencies supporting health care in The Bahamas. Since 2011, The Ministry of Health in The Bahamas established a coalition composed of state and non-state stakeholders, civil society organizations and international agencies, to collectively address non-communicable diseases.
Efforts to Improve Health Care in The Bahamas
Since then, The Bahamas has significantly improved its health care. On July 6, 2021, the Bahamian government and the Beck Group agreed to a $90 million deal to improve public hospitals. This deal includes upgrades to the Princess Margaret Hospital in Nassau and Rand Memorial Hospital in Grand Bahamas. Moving forward, more attention will go toward the infrastructure of these hospitals, especially when considering the impact of Hurricane Dorian on the Rand Memorial Hospital in 2019. Such efforts are vital to improving health care in The Bahamas.
Even more recently, The Ministry of Health & Wellness released a statement confirming no cases of Monkeypox in The Bahamas as of May 29, 2022. Furthermore, the Ministry also issued an Epo Alert to physicians nationwide to continue surveillance of any individuals indicating symptoms of Monkeypox. This work not only benefits all citizens of The Bahamas but also incoming tourists from around the globe. Simultaneously, the Ministry of Health is running numerous healthcare initiatives programs that aim to further develop health care in The Bahamas.
5 Health Care Programs in The Bahamas
- The Parent Craft Program: The Parent Craft Program helps to enlist all expectant parents in The Bahamas in childbirth and parenting classes to help educate them on prenatal and postnatal care. The modules cover topics such as bodily changes during pregnancy and infant nutrition. The Program began in the mid-1960s but took off in 1990. Furthermore, although the government of The Bahamas has yet to report detailed statistics, estimates have indicated that at least 50% of antenatal mothers will register in the program and fathers will make up 25% of participants in all parenting classes.
- Healthy Lifestyle Initiative: Healthy Lifestyle Initiative aims to reduce illness, disability and death due to poor lifestyle choices. Methods include educating the public on the harmful effects of smoking, unhealthy eating and lack of exercise. The initiative aims to tackle non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, chronic respiratory disease, heart disease and cancer. Established in November 2005, the initiative continues to have an impact nationwide.
- Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) Program: Introduced in 1999, the SCAN Program provides an effective approach to identifying and supporting children who have experienced abuse and are hence in dire need of health care assistance. These services will also include support to arrange psychological and legal services for abused children and their families. SCAN also partners with forensic, police and judiciary services. However, the Government of The Bahamas has yet to report detailed statistics regarding the initiative as people tend to keep issues about abuse private.
- School Health Initiative: Introduced in 1920, the School Health Initiative ensures premium healthcare services for all government school students. Furthermore, recognizing health care in The Bahamas as a key contributor to academic success, this initiative seeks to help physicians and nurses carry out annual physical examinations of children in grades 1, 6 and 10. The goal is also to better prepare health care workers to treat minor ailments and maintain a high level of immunization amongst school children.
- The Tuberculosis Control Program: Since 1955, the Tuberculosis Control Program has envisioned eliminating all traces of TB in The Bahamas, and subsequently, reducing death, disability, illness, emotional trauma, family disruption and the social stigma that may accompany TB. Since 1962, there have been many upgrades in health care services in local hospitals. For instance, the Princess Margaret Hospital created a separate wing, the Chest Wing, for private TB patients in the Princess Margaret Hospital. The hospital later introduced exclusive floors with three wings for female and male patients respectively, as well as another wing just for children on the ground floor.
The programs and initiatives above are evidence of the nation’s commitment to improving health care in The Bahamas. Over the last decade, given the risk of diseases such as COVID-19, tuberculosis and AIDS, national attention to health care has become a pivotal topic of national interest and does not seem to waiver. Furthermore, on November 22, 2021, USAID Eastern and Southern Caribbean Regional Representative, Mr. Clinton D. White, donated $255,000 worth of health equipment to The Bahamas on behalf of the U.S. government. Most notably, on August 12, the U.S. Government delivered 134,550 Pfizer vaccine doses to The Bahamas. Although there is still work that needs to occur in addressing non-communicable diseases and decreasing national rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, the nation’s progress in health care is commendable. Given continued focus and support from fellow nations, the health care system in The Bahamas should only be on the rise.
– Samyudha Rajesh