Diseases in the Bahamas
The top diseases in the Bahamas are hypertensive disease, ischemic heart diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, HIV/AIDS and diabetes. These diseases account for the high mortality rates in the country and affect the overall health of Bahamians.

  1. Hypertension was the leading cause of death for Bahamians in 2011 resulting in 215 deaths, which is a decrease in the number of deaths from 2008, which stood at 993. Hypertension preventative measures have been implemented in the Bahamas and a national campaign was launched in 2013 promoting good habits for controlling blood pressure.
  2. Ischemic heart diseases or coronary heart disease has been considered one of the top diseases in the Bahamas and resulted in 180 deaths in 2011. The country’s department of statistics has reported that more than 24 percent of all deaths in the Bahamas are directly related to heart disease.
  3. Cerebrovascular diseases accounted for 130 deaths and have been another of the top diseases in the Bahamas, especially among women. Cerebrovascular diseases are considered more life-threatening even though hypertensive diseases are the number one cause of death.
  4. HIV/AIDS has been prevalent in the Bahamas and ranks fifth on the list of top diseases in the Bahamas with a mortality of 121 deaths, according to a 2011 report by the Bahamas government. This is considered an epidemic, and there is currently no cure. The Bahamas, along with its AIDS Secretariat, is working vigorously to promote preventative measures and proper health measures for those living with this disease. Recently, the Linkages Project in conjunction with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has begun the groundwork of linking across the Continuum of HIV Services for Key Populations Affected by HIV project. This project is aimed at accelerating the ability of partner governments, key population-led civil society organizations and private-sector providers to plan, deliver and optimize comprehensive HIV prevention, care and treatment services to reduce HIV transmission among key populations and help those living with the disease to live longer.
  5. Diabetes, another top disease in the Bahamas, affects 34,900 Bahamians and can lead to death, according to the International Diabetes Federation. The mortality of this disease in 2011 was 86 deaths per year. Diabetes can lead to other complications and result in similar symptoms to the other top diseases in the Bahamas.

These diseases all have a major impact on the health of the Bahamian people, and health providers continue to promote healthy lifestyles and to lobby for affordable, all-inclusive national health plans to combat their impact.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr

Bahamas Refugees
The Bahamas is an archipelago of over seven hundred islands and keys. It is nestled in the Caribbean with close proximity to the U.S. and has a populous of 319,000; as recorded by the United Nations in 2005.

The country has always been plagued with refugees and asylum seekers. Recently, there has been a change in immigration policies by the current governing administration, the Progressive Liberal Party. It has received much scrutiny and gotten backlash from international organizations inclusive of Amnesty International and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

To understand the Bahamas’ position and the state of refugees, here are 10 facts about Bahamas refugees:

  1. According to the World Bank, refugee by country or territory of asylum in the Bahamas was last measured at 13 in 2014.
  2. Individuals who have applied for asylum or refugee status and are awaiting a decision or registered as asylum seekers—are excluded.
  3. The percentage of tertiary educated imigrants or refugees to the Bahamas has significantly decreased to zero, signifying the country’s undesirable conditions.
  4. It is estimated that at least 100 refugees are residing in the Bahamas as of 2000 according to U.N. reports.
  5. The Bahamas government prefers repatriation of immigrants, and in 2015 the government spent $83,000 repatriating illegal immigrants as opposed to granting asylum to refugees.
  6. The process to seek asylum or refugee status in the Bahamas has been exposed as corrupt, unfair and unfavorable to applicants seeking political protection.
  7. Refugees experience discrimination, both subtle and overt, on a widespread scale.
  8. Refugees and asylum seekers are detained at a facility called the Carmichael Road Detention Centre; in adverse conditions.
  9. Refugees and asylum seekers are subject to cruel treatment if detained in the Bahamas.
  10. The Bahamas receives no assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development for refugee and migration or other food aid programs.

With proper policy reform, training and understanding of human rights, as well as taking preliminary measures to establish a fair asylum process to regulate more efficiently situation with the Bahamas refugees, the country will be on the right path to compliance with international human rights law and eligible for aid.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality
New Providence, the most populated island in the Bahamas, uses about 11 million gallons of groundwater a day.

The Bahamas has been unable to meet the demands of the 11 million gallons of groundwater since the mid-1970’s. This led to the emergence of barging water from North Andros due to strict rationing.

Rising sea levels are expected over the next several decades. This may create wetlands, which are fresh water resources that would provide the country’s means of water quality and survival. The method of desalting sea water by means of reverse osmosis is used to maintain a level of water quality in the Bahamas today. This suggests that water does not currently come from a supply of clean, freshwater sources.

The country is vulnerable to compromised freshwater from storm surges, which cause saltwater inundation in aquifers in many cases and threatens the country’s water quality.

A major concern of the water quality in the Bahamas is the proliferation of private shallow water wells, including domestic and hotel wells. Dangerous elements such as nitrates, pathogens and other substances compromise the groundwater quality when these wells are developed due to on-site sanitation. As a result, Bahamians are at great risk to contamination.

Water quality in the Bahamas is not up to standard, due to critical sanitary problems in the country. The main source of the water contamination is from septic tanks, soakaways and pit latrines. These issues are all major risks to water quality in the Bahamas and the overall the health of its citizens.

Due to over-abstraction, physical disturbance, point source pollution, solid waste disposal, disposal wells and septic tanks, the water quality in the Bahamas is threatened. The majority of Bahamians are encouraged to use bottled water, even though the Water & Sewerage Corporation practices desalination by reverse osmosis and the water satisfies both the World Health Organization and U.K. guidelines for chemical, physical and biological parameters.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr

Bahamas National Feeding Network
The Bahamas National Feeding Network (BNFN) and AML Foods Limited have collaborated to award 60 single mothers with $100 gift vouchers for the purchase of staples, ground produce and other food items. This initiative is one of their many attempts to expunge hunger among local Bahamians.

Selection Process and Statistics
In 2013, the Commonwealth Government of the Bahamas, with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank and the Department of Statistics conducted a household outlay revealing 12.5 percent of the population in the Bahamas lives in poverty conditions. The poverty rate is significantly higher in Family Islands at 17.2 percent and New Providence at 12.4 percent.

The women were selected by community Leaders who believed that they would be suitable beneficiaries of the Bahamas National Feeding Network Initiative. These women are faced with the economic hardship of single parenthood.

AML Foods Limited recognizes this concern and drives the impetus to help eradicate hunger. “We at AML Foods Limited feel strongly about hunger prevention and healthy living,” said Renea Bastian, Vice President of Marketing & Communications of AML.

What is the BNFN?
The Bahamas National Feeding Network is a non-profit group that consists of 13 individual organizations who has decided to tackle the hunger crisis evident among the archipelago of islands. The Feeding Network started in 2013 and has been in operation for the past three years. The main function of the organization is to collect and distribute food items to the indigent living among the Bahamian enclave.

AML foods have committed to donating 100,000 over the next three years towards eradicating hunger in Grand Bahamas. The company has contributed over $30,000 in food coupons through the BNFN. The BNFN has donated more than $350,000 to its web of 110 partners since its three years of operation.

The Bahamas National Feeding Network also provides the foundation for self-empowerment and independence in a sustainable way for poor families. “While we are giving, we are also teaching people to grow,” said diplomat, businessman and philanthropist Frank Crothers, Bahamas Feeding Network Chairman.

More on the Ground
The BFN has also played an integral role in the funding of the Bahamas Children’s Emergency Hostel presenting a $1,000 donation. The temporary childcare facility relies primarily on donations for maintenance and daily functioning such as providing food, supplements, clothes and healthcare for children who have been abandoned or neglected.

Shanique Wright

Photo: Flickr

poverty in the bahamas

While many Americans flock to the Bahamas for relaxing beach vacations, these tourists may not think about the economic hardships faced by their island hosts. Here are seven facts about the condition of poverty in the Bahamas:

  1. The poverty rate in the Bahamas currently sits at 12.5 percent. In 2001, the poverty rate was 9.3 percent. In 2014, the poverty line in the Bahamas stood at $4,247 compared to $2,863 as recorded in 2001.
  2. The current poverty rate is the highest for those in the under-20 demographic. Chairman of Citizens for Justice Bishop Walter Hanchell explained this statistic to The Freeport News, saying many recent high school graduates have trouble finding work as they lack the necessary skills.
  3. Unemployment contributes a great deal to poverty in the Bahamas. In 2013, unemployment was recorded at 16.2 percent and has gone down to 15.4 percent according to the 2014 Labor Force Survey. Bahamian scholar Rochelle R. Dean shared her thoughts on unemployment with Tribune242, saying, “the Bahamas has the resources, tools and labour force to reduce the unemployment rate, but lacks the vision and ambition to do so.”
  4. According to the Household Expenditure Survey, larger families are more likely to be in poverty, with 32 percent of households with seven or more members living below the poverty line.
  5. Haitians living in the Bahamas have the highest rate of poverty at 37.69 percent, although Haitians represent only 7.48 percent of the Bahamian population. The poverty rates among the islands in the Bahamas vary greatly: poverty rates are the highest within the Family Islands and lowest in Grand Bahama.
  6. Households led by women are more likely to face poverty in the Bahamas (9.7 percent) than households led by men (7.9 percent). According to the Nassau Guardian, women represent slightly more of the poor population at 51.83 percent.
  7. In 2012, 10,000 people received financial aid from the Bahamian government, an astounding increase from the 3,000 people in 2004.

Although multiple leaders in the Bahamas are at odds about how to improve the economy, all agree that something must be done, soon. With increasing poverty and unemployment rates, the citizens and leaders of the Bahamas must find a way to come together to improve these conditions.

Carrie Robinson

Photo: Flickr