Women’s Rights in Barbados
Women’s rights in Barbados have come a long way since the early 20th century when women’s organizations first began advocating for gender equality in the country. Today, women in Barbados enjoy legal protections against domestic violence and discrimination and have made significant gains in areas such as education and political representation.

One major milestone in the history of women’s rights in Barbados was the granting of suffrage to women in 1950. Since then, women have been able to participate in elections and hold political office, including the position of Prime Minister. Mia Mottley held the position of Prime Minister in Barbados from 2018 to 2022 and was the first woman to hold the title. However, women still face underrepresenting in political and economic leadership positions and gender-based violence remains a persistent issue in the country.

Government’s Efforts

To address these challenges, the Barbadian government has established and signed a number of initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. These include the Beijing Platform for Action, which outlines goals and objectives for achieving gender equality and women’s rights in Barbados. As a result of signing this document, Barbados has made significant positive progress towards freedom and equality for women such as eliminating the direct discrimination and violence against women in public spheres and activities. Barbados is also in compliance with the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women, the only binding and legal document against gender-based violence and upholds women’s physical, sexual and psychological integrity.

Barbados strengthened these impacts by passing the Domestic Violence Protections Order Amendment Act 2016, one of the strongest Protection Orders in the region that gives emergency protection orders to police and focuses on best practices to combat gender-based violence.

The Bureau of Gender Affairs is another important institution, responsible for promoting women’s rights in Barbados and ensuring that a gender perspective is integrated into all governmental plans and policies.

Making Progress

In 2022 the World Bank compared 190 countries’ economies across eight different categories. The results show that Barbados scored a perfect score in four areas analyzed: workplace, marriage, assets and pension. Barbados has many laws securing a woman’s position in the workplace and ensuring that there are policies against workplace discrimination and harassment, they even ensure the possibility to file a lawsuit when there is harassment against women in the workplace. When it comes to marriage, women have secured rights regarding divorce and remarrying, making sure that women’s relationships with men uphold women’s rights in Barbados.

While these scores are encouraging, Barbados did not score well in the categories of mobility, pay, parenthood and entrepreneurship. Women in Barbados do not receive adequate paid maternity leave when compared to males and they are also unable to receive the same credit benefits in their businesses as men do. This made Barbados’ overall score 80 out of 100, lower than the average score in Latin America and the Caribbean. There are still many laws that do not protect women in Barbados. For example, approximately 30% of women from ages 20-24 were married before 18, women hold only 20% of seats in parliament and there is an adolescent birth rate of 49.7%.

The Future

Despite challenges, women in Barbados have made significant strides in a number of areas. Women now outnumber men in tertiary education and there is a growing awareness of the importance of gender equality in the country and governmental leaders are working to implement policies that address inequalities. As Barbados looks to the future, it will be important to build on these achievements and continue working towards a more equitable and just society for all. Many are still calling for a National Gender Policy, which the government of Barbados has stated is currently in progress.

– Kellyjohana Ahumada
Photo: Flickr

tackling-hiv-aids-in-barbadosHIV/AIDS rates in the Caribbean are the highest in the world after Sub-Saharan Africa. With the prevalence rate within the region being 1.6% in 2005, the National Strategic Plan of Barbados marked HIV/AIDS as one of the nation’s biggest threats. Its small size and population mean that Barbados, and the Caribbean as a whole, tend to be overlooked in discussions of HIV/AIDS. Despite this Barbados has since, with foreign help, embarked on a mission to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS within the nation.

Understanding the Problem

HIV/AIDS transmission in Barbados saw a significant uptake in the early 2000s. This upward trend was mirrored across most of the Caribbean region. The Barbadian government identified that disfranchised groups were overrepresented in statistics regarding HIV/AIDS transmission.

A range of factors led to the higher than global average rate of HIV/AIDS in the nation. One of the largest factors contributing to the relatively high rate of HIV/AIDS in Barbados was the low rate of condom usage among the nation’s youth. In 2006, only 21% of Barbadians between the ages of 15 to 24 reported using a condom in their most recent instance of sexual intercourse.

Men who have sex with men, sex workers and other venerable groups also accounted for a disproportionate share of those infected with and dying from HIV/AIDS. These vulnerable and at-risk groups later became the focus of transmission reduction and treatment efforts.

Most recently the COVID-19 pandemic distracted from efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in the country. Initiatives such as the Man Aware event, which seeks to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS among Barbadian men, were canceled. The risk of spreading COVID-19 meant such face-to-face events could not be held.

Calls to Action

Various national and international actors have had a hand in combating HIV/AIDS transmission and AIDS-related deaths within Barbados. The World Bank provided one avenue of initial support. The World Bank’s Adaptable Program Loan, known as APL, provided the nation with additional health care funding. The main purpose of this program’s adoption in Barbados was to combat HIV/AIDS transmission and quell deaths from HIV/AIDS, according to The World Bank. One way Barbados achieved this was by providing free antiretroviral to HIV-positive citizens.

The U.S. Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), created in 2003, partnered with the Barbadian government, among other developing nations, to combat HIV/AIDS transmission. The U.S. organization contributed over $80 billion to this global project so far. PEPFAR also oversaw the wide-scale adoption of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) HIV prevention treatment in the nation. The Barbadian Ministry of Health and Wellness worked closely with PEPFAR to adapt HIV/AIDS treatment services to each vulnerable group.

As well as partnering with American-led organizations, Barbados also partnered with the governments of other Caribbean nations under the Pan-Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP). This regional collaborative effort sort to connect HIV/AIDS funding, on the governmental and intergovernmental level, to local services. This aided research within research facilities and supported the functioning of further treatment centers. Barbados, along with its partners in the PANCAP has seen the most progress in combating HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean region.


The action taken to combat HIV/AIDS in Barbados by both internal and external actors have brought about significant progress in the fight against the disease. Through these various initiatives, Barbados embarked upon a U.N. set a target of having at least 90% of HIV-positive citizens know their status and receive treatment by the year 2020. As of 2020, Barbados has reached 89% of HIV-positive citizens knowing their status, according to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS.

This promotion and uptake of testing began saving lives immediately upon its adoption as a major priority by the Barbadian government. Between 2001 and 2006 the number of AIDS-related deaths in Barbados plummeted by 72%. Within the same time period, new AIDS diagnoses fell by 46%, according to The World Bank.

The education which accompanied testing and treatment has helped quell much of the further spread of HIV/AIDS in Barbados. The education of Barbadian youth resulted in 72% of young people aged 15 to 24 stating they used a condom during their most recent sexual encounter in 2014. This rose significantly from the 21% reported in 2006, The World Bank reports.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has continued much of the positive work pioneered by the Barbadian government, U.N. and previous U.S. interventions. The CDC established its regional office in the Caribbean region in 2002. The CDC has paid particular attention to ensuring testing and treatment for men who have sex with men, one of the most vulnerable portions of Barbadian society. Today the CDC continues to work with its ministries to improve the quality of testing and treatment services. CDC funding also continues to create great outreach for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment efforts.

These progressive strides made within Barbados over the last two decades to tackle HIV/AIDS have been a result of the collaboration between numerous stakeholders. Although it still needs more progress, Barbados has come a long way in combating the disease over the last 20 years.

Bryce Mathurin Lindsay
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Barbados
The word “pride” appears three times in the first eight lines of the Barbados national anthem and the country has much to be proud of. It gained its independence from the U.K. in 1966, became a republic in November 2021 and is the wealthiest island with the highest per capita income in the Eastern Caribbean. Barbadians may be less proud, though, of their government’s efforts to combat human trafficking. Here is some information about human trafficking in Barbados.

About Human Trafficking in Barbados

The U.S. Department of State’s country narrative on human trafficking in Barbados explains that often sex traffickers from Guyana partner with pimps from Barbados to place migrants into jobs quite different from what they expected. Migrant workers from Jamaica, Guyana and the Dominican Republic may come to the island anticipating agricultural work only to end up in a massage parlor or brothel. Sadly, children are not exempt from this. Traffickers force other migrants into indentured labor. Traffickers control these victims with physical violence, debt servitude and other forms of intimidation.

Assessing Barbados’ Attempts to End Trafficking

The U.S. Department of State designates Barbados as Tier 2, which means the island government’s efforts do not meet the minimum standards for combatting human trafficking. More locally, the Director of the Caribbean Anti Human-Trafficking Foundation Dr. Olivia Smith has indicated that she does not believe the Attorney General of Barbados is taking the problem seriously enough. Smith noted that while she has dealt with nearly 30 suspected trafficking cases since the end of 2020, the AG has investigated just three.

Barbados’ Plan to Deal with Trafficking

Smith’s comments come as the Barbados Office of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs unveiled the Barbados National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, 2021-2023 in March 2021. The government has dedicated $125,000 to financing this plan. Integral to it are the 4Ps:

  • Prevention – As with many problems, prevention is key. Screening vulnerable individuals according to indicators, such as signs of abuse or disconnection from friends and family, prevents potential victimization. Barbados needs this as the number of people screened dropped by 50% during the two-year period from 2018 to 2020.
  • Protection – Traffickers separate their victims from their support system, making victims completely dependent on the trafficker for basic necessities. That is why a dedicated shelter for rescued victims is essential. Currently, Barbados does not have such shelters and those it uses lack appropriate resources.
  • Prosecution – Barbadians have a saying in the Bajan dialect: “Evah pig got he Saturday,” which means “Everyone will pay for his deeds at some point.” Currently, human trafficking laws in Barbados do not reflect that proverb. Barbadian law has a fine-only option for convicted traffickers, has not prosecuted anyone since 2016 and has never secured a conviction. If the “Prosecution” part of the government’s 4P plan has teeth, it will show traffickers that Barbados takes their crimes as seriously as other atrocities including rape.
  • Partnership – Human trafficking is never just a local problem. More transparency with international partners can help Barbados become part of the international fight against human trafficking.

The Barbados National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking is an encouraging step in the right direction. Perhaps the “pride” so pervasive in the lyrics of Barbados’ national anthem can soon apply to the country fulfilling the Ps in its plan to eradicate human trafficking.

Vickie Melograno
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in BarbadosBarbados is quickly becoming a leader in renewable energy. A former English colony, Barbados is a small island in the Caribbean known for its scenic beaches and tropical ecosystem. Natural disasters in the past and the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the need for a more diverse economy in Barbados. Renewable energy is a promising solution moving forward. Barbados is investing in renewable energy to reduce poverty and ensure sustainability.

4 Facts About Renewable Energy in Barbados

  1. Investing in the Future – Barbados may be a small island but it has taken large steps to transition to renewable energy. By 2030, Barbados plans to have 100% of its energy consumption come from renewable sources. Although this goal may be ambitious, Barbados put its words into action by securing loans, including a $30 million loan in 2019 from the Inter-American Development Bank. The focus is on building solar photovoltaics for both residential and commercial purposes. Barbados is also interested in growing wind, waste, biomass and ocean and wave energy in order to modernize its energy grid while cutting costs for energy imports and creating jobs.
  2. Geographic Advantages for Wind and Solar Energy – The political feasibility of renewable energy in Barbados is unique because it does not have large petroleum reserves that would cause competing interests. This is a problem that is characteristic of countries in other regions such as North America and the Middle East. The tropical climate in Barbados makes it ideal for wind and solar energy. Barbados averages 8.3 hours of sunshine per day and 5.6 kilowatts of solar irradiation per square meter. Additionally, the annual wind speed averages 5.5 meters per second. These averages make Barbados well-positioned to utilize wind and solar energy compared to the rest of the world. Barbados also has the ability to use the ocean not only for energy produced by water but for installing offshore wind turbines. The ocean provides stronger wind regimes. Since there is very little space to build large wind turbines onshore, this feature will become increasingly valuable.
  3. Renewable Energy Cuts Costs – Barbados experiences very high electricity costs due to its reliance on crude oil. The high electricity bills for an individual household or business and the economic burden of purchasing oil from other countries caused the need to transition to renewable energy. Fuel reflects an average of 15% of its import costs and about half of this is used just for generating electricity. Cutting down the cost of fossil fuel spending and having a more sustainable and efficient energy source would cut costs for citizens and improve the overall economy.
  4. Economic Vulnerability – Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy of Barbados has suffered a major setback. With 40% of its GDP and 30% of the workforce in the tourism industry, many are without an income. About 90% of the industry, including hotels, had to close or reduce their normal operating levels because of the pandemic. In addition, Barbados has a hurricane season every year. Hurricanes damage infrastructure, harm the health of beaches and prevent tourists from coming to the island. Hurricane Dorian cost the country an estimated $3.4 billion or a quarter of its GDP when it hit the island in 2019. In the United States and around the world, renewable energy jobs are some of the fastest-growing occupations. Barbados would greatly benefit from being a part of the trend.

Moving Forward

Barbados is planning ahead for its future and moving forward with renewable energy to ensure economic stability and lessen the effects of natural disasters. The country stands as a strong model for other nations in approaching renewable energy and preparing for the future.

Stephen Illes
Photo: Flickr

Women in BarbadosHuman trafficking is prevalent in the Caribbean, including the island of Barbados. Trafficking is the act of transporting a person with the intention of forced or coerced labor. Research conducted by the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit (CJRPU) indicates that women’s involvement in drug trafficking is more prevalent among those who are uneducated and live in circumstances of poverty with little economic opportunity. The financial rewards of drug trafficking are appealing to women dealing with extreme economic hardship and poverty. Women are involved in trafficking more often than men. Specifically, mothers fall victim to trafficking to take care of their children and help their families out of poverty. Anti-trafficking efforts support women in Barbados and other Caribbean islands.

Caribbean Institute for Women in Leadership

The Caribbean Institute for Women in Leadership (CIWiL), together with several partners, works to create a more favorable environment for female leadership. The CIWiL is a multi-partisan organization without political affiliations that strengthens female leaders’ decision-making in Barbados. Its work is primarily achieved through building initiatives. Currently, webinars are accessible through the CIWiL website. The webinars are about leadership, politics and socio-economic subjects. The website has other political and economic resources such as initiatives for Young Women in Leadership (YWiL) in the Caribbean. One of these initiatives took place in October 2020 in Antigua and Barbuda. This program worked on building personal development skills for women ages 18 to 25 who are actively passionate about public leadership.

Efforts to Support Entrepreneurship

In July 2011, the CIWiL began its activity in Barbados to support events and initiatives that empower female entrepreneurs. In February of the same year, the Barbados government’s Bureau of Gender Affairs held a workshop to celebrate the Day of Women of the Americas for Leaders. The workshop hosted women in the Caribbean who are actively aspiring political or public leaders, helping them learn and build on their leadership skills. The Bureau is confident that supporting entrepreneurship will aid women in Barbados and be an efficient way to combat human trafficking. Developing the country’s economy helps decrease poverty in the country. Providing outlets for businesses to grow also creates significant opportunities for women to explore healthier income avenues.

HIV/AIDS Prevention

The Caribbean is leading at number two for the highest HIV/AIDs prevalence rate in the world. USAID launched a five-year initiative in 2015 to support the Caribbean’s efforts to combat the virus. The Bureau of Gender Affairs declares women’s health a pertinent issue, that if addressed, will support women trafficked in Barbados. From July to September 2011, the Bureau conducted a series of workshops addressing HIV/AIDS. The workshops discussed women’s susceptibility to HIV/AIDS and how to create more awareness and understanding of the topic. The event successfully implemented supportive measures for women in Barbados, including educational tools.

Barbados-United States Partnership

The U.S. Embassy Bridgetown Public Affairs Section (PAS) is trying to implement a new fixed grant system for Barbados. There are about 24 grants awarded for up to $24,000 each. These grants hope to strengthen the Barbados relationship with the U.S. Department of State. The more economically beneficial relationships Barbados has, the greater the opportunity to decrease poverty. Providing women trafficked in Barbados with more options for quality work is imperative to stop the lure of trafficking.

Commitment to Anti-Human Trafficking

Barbados will continue to be successful with its measures to support women and stop human trafficking. The Bureau of Gender Affairs is putting stress on expanding women’s economic status through productive initiatives that provide more opportunities for women in Barbados vulnerable to human trafficking. These anti-human trafficking efforts are the start of increased female empowerment in Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean.

Libby Keefe
Photo: Flickr

Redlegs of Barbados
About 400 Irish descendants live in poverty today on an eastern Caribbean island called Barbados. One can date their ancestors back to the 1600s when Captain Joseph West sold the first 53 Irish indentured servants to the government of Barbados. Over time, a total of 50,000 Irish indentured servants would undergo transport to Barbados. The Irish descendants in Barbados received the name of Redlegs of Barbados because of their sunburns turning their pale white skin bright red from the hot tropical sun. Even after hundreds of years, their bodies still have not adapted to the unfamiliar heat conditions.

Their History

Oliver Cromwell, a political and military leader for England, led the invasion of Ireland in 1649 leading to his role in the transportation of the conquered Irish people to become the Redlegs of Barbados. It was his death that brought an end to the major transportation of Irish indentured servants and the start of the transportation of African slaves to Barbados.

Living Conditions

“School absenteeism, poor health, the ill effects of inter-family marriage, large families, little ownership of land and lack of job opportunities have locked those remaining on the island into a poverty trap. Even today the red legs still stand out as anomalies and are hard-pressed for survival in a society that has no niche for them,” says Sheena Jolley, a photographer who has captured the living conditions of the Redlegs of Barbados.

The Redlegs of Barbados have mostly married within their community. As a result, this caused a higher risk of birth defects, diseases and shorter life expectancy. Some integration with African descendants in Barbados has occurred, which has led to better health and education for some Redlegs. However, many still struggle with health problems. Lack of dental care and poor diet has also contributed towards Redlegs of Barbados having bad or even no teeth at all.

Help from Ireland

Micheal Martin, Irish Minister and Department of Foreign Affairs, has commented on the issue of assistants to the Redlegs of Barbados. His insight to the Irish Aboard Unit, “manages and coordinates the Emigrants Support Programme (ESP) in partnership with Ireland’s embassies and consulates abroad,” says they have been to Barbados to meet with the community. During their meetings, the Redlegs received encouragement to keep in contact with the government.

“Representatives of the community are welcome to submit an application for funding under the Emigrant Support Programme” said Minister Martin.

Joshua Botkin
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in BarbadosThe population of Barbados is approximately 290,000. While hunger rates have drastically fallen within the last two decades, a new problem emerges—childhood obesity. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic posed additional threats to both of these issues in the scarcity of healthy options or food altogether. In addition, the decreases in GDP indicate the economic consequences of lost tourism revenue. Here are five facts covering the state of hunger in Barbados as they recover from the impact of coronavirus.

5 Facts About Hunger in Barbados

  1. Pervasiveness: In 2004, roughly one in 16 Barbadians’ food intake fell below the necessary consumption requirements to meet efficient dietary standards. As of 2017, 3.9% of the population experiences undernourishment, which is a 0.1% increase from the previous year. However, there is a decreasing trend in the percentage of malnourished people in Barbados.
  2. Agriculture: In 2018, 22.6% of Barbados’ merchandise imports were food products, a near 3% increase from the previous year. Barbados is unique compared to other impoverished nations in that most of its land is arable. Large farm complexes tend to dominate the agricultural industry, with sugar production previously leading the economy until the 1950s. As sugar prices decreased, government efforts to diversify food production led to significant increases in local food resources. Modernization programs continue to support fishing and foliage industries.
  3. COVID-19’s Impact: Compared to other impoverished nations and the United States, Barbados handled the pandemic fairly efficiently. Following 35 days with no reported new cases, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley lifted flight restrictions and all curfews were no longer in effect beginning July 1. However, a joint report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) projected that COVID-19 could push 83.4 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean into extreme poverty. Fortunately, Barbados’ competency in pandemic response resulted in the coronavirus posing no significant additional threat to food security. In the Eastern Caribbean, over 40% of GDP and 25% of private-sector employment comes from tourism. With the pandemic under control, Barbados is likely to recover from the months-long travel standstill.
  4. Negative Impacts: While hunger in Barbados rapidly decreased in the last few decades, a new problem emerged: childhood obesity. A 2012 World Health Organization survey found that 31.5% of school children were overweight and 14.4% were obese. Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Weir is taking the lead in finding effective solutions against childhood obesity. This includes increasing access to nutritious foods and cooperating with fast-food businesses to help find solutions. The Barbados Childhood Obesity Prevention Program (B-CHOPP) plans to take “a broader and more systemic approach.” B-CHOPP is looking at disparities in access to healthy food. The plan promoted five strategic actions, including promoting healthy school initiatives and physical activity.
  5. Progress: Zero Hunger is the second goal in the United Nation’s Development Program (UNDP). In Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, UNDP is currently working on multiple projects. This includes transforming food and agriculture while actively combatting climate change. According to the United Nations, the last 20 years have shown considerable strides in increasing food security. This is due to economic progress and agricultural productivity. A 2019 FAO report reveals that the objective of the U.N.’s sustainability programs empowers small farmers and family farms to increase food production and productivity. This sustainability model also plays into using limited resources for effective aquaponics. In addition, a 2017 FAO report found that the test facilities were “fully operational and… actively producing fish and vegetables for sale.” While hunger is significantly lower than before, local and international organizations continue to fight hunger in Barbados.

From the ongoing success of the UNDP, FAO and other local and international associations, Barbados continues to address food insecurity and promoting nutrition to its citizens. Yet, the emphasis on local programs that simultaneously combat global and local issues, like climate change, demonstrates the workings of a multi-pronged approach to combat hunger.

Francesca Gaynor
Photo: Flickr

homelessness in barbados
With beautifully clear water, palm trees and blue skies, Barbados is a popular destination for vacationers, with 2.4 million people traveling to the island annually. However, outside of luxury resorts and beaches, about 18% of the native population lives in poverty. Additionally, many experience homelessness in Barbados.

Stigma Regarding Homelessness in Barbados

Vacations and other citizens routinely ostracize homeless Barbadians. Kilvin Cox, a 61-year-old homeless man in Barbados, said, “I have realized society, they can’t do it with me. They don’t show me empathy. I am a living person; I am a quiet man and a lively man; I’m an easygoing man.” Cox says that sometimes when he asks for money at stop signs, doing whatever he can to survive, people yell at him through their car windows because they think he intends to rob them.

Paradoxically, it is often this stigma towards homeless individuals in Barbados that prevents upward mobility. An assessment of the living conditions in Barbados in 2010 reveals that the social ostracization of “vulnerable groups” including homeless people leads to their subsequent exclusion from education, health and other services. This is a vicious cycle that reinforces poverty through the continuation of social and subsequently institutional exclusion.

Causes of Homelessness

The problem of homelessness in Barbados is largely due to the unemployment rate, which reached 10.33% in 2019. Much of Barbados’ homeless population is unemployed, such as 74-year-old Horace Gibson. Gibson receives a pension but notes, “you know how pension goes. You gotta buy food, you gotta buy everything! So, it’s really about how you want to live. I just take it easy, and take it as it comes. I try to survive. I don’t trouble nobody.”

There is no single social or institutional funnel that ushers individuals into homelessness. The Rotary Club of Barbados reported that homelessness in Barbados can come about in a myriad of ways, including drugs and alcohol, mental instability, poor management of finances and lack of familial support.


The Barbados government has acknowledged the country’s poverty rate (reported in 2010 at over 19%) which the struggles of people like Cox and Gibson clearly illustrate. In response, Prime Minister Mia Mottley introduced a comprehensive Barbados Economic and Recovery Transformation (BERT) plan in 2018 with the intention of restoring financial sustainability and increasing economic growth. While the program mentions its goal to “protect vulnerable groups through strengthened social safety nets,” it does not specifically define vulnerable groups or mention homelessness in its plan.

Aside from the absence of policies that address homelessness within the BERT plan, the government more broadly does not offer direct support to aid homeless or vagrant populations. Instead, the Welfare Department often refers these individuals to the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness (BAEH) according to its president Kemar Saffrey. However, despite the government’s apparent reliance on referring those in need to the shelter, it has consistently denied BAEH subvention, submitting proposals annually to no avail.

Although it receives no governmental aid, BAEH is still able to provide programs for the homeless people it serves, including rehabilitation programs, breakfast programs, access to social service agencies, medical services, counseling, educational classes, employment preparation and a shelter specifically for women and children. BAEH’s mission focuses on reintegrating vagrants and homeless people into society through a rehabilitative housing program that enables individuals to enter society in a productive manner. The reported success rate is 78%, but Saffrey warns that the homeless population will continue to increase if the Barbadian government continues to ignore these people, their struggles to survive and the socioeconomic inequalities they represent.

– Kate Ciolkowski-Winters
Photo: Flickr


Facts About Life Expectancy in BarbadosLife expectancy is affected by many different factors including, but not limited to, health care, access to food, disease control and sanitation. In Barbados, the high life expectancy rate is a result of the high quality of life that many citizens experience. Below are eight facts about life expectancy in Barbados.

8 Facts About Life Expectancy in Barbados

  1. The average life expectancy in Barbados is approximately 79 years. Life expectancy is higher than for women at 80.1 years compared to 77.6 years for men. Barbados has the highest-ranking life expectancy in the Caribbean.

  2. Dengue fever is a potentially fatal mosquite-borne disease that is endemic in Barbados. Barbados has fought dengue fever for decades, with its most recent outbreak in 2016. In addition to awareness campaigns, the Ministry of Health prioritizes fogging exercises and house-to-house inspections to contain the spread of dengue.

  3. The leading cause of death in Barbados is heart disease. Noncommunicable diseases accounted for 83 percent of all deaths in Barbados in 2016. Diabetes and cancer are the other main causes of death. Health care in Barbados is held to a high standard and easily available to most. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital is the main provider of secondary care for the population.

  4. The infant mortality rate is 11.3 deaths per 1,000 live births as of 2018. While this is a sharp decline since 1960 when the infant mortality rate stood at 69.6, the rate is higher than the average of 4 deaths per 1,000 live births for high-income countries globally.

  5. Barbados experienced its biggest increase in life expectancy in 1951. In response to The Great Depression, Barbados entered a time of political change that fundamentally transformed the island. The spike in life expectancy continued to increase in pace, as the country developed into an independent nation.

  6. Barbados participated in the U.N. project, “Piloting Climate Change: Adaptation to Protect Human Health.” The Global Environment Facility funded the project. Environmental challenges that affect health include air quality, vector-borne diseases, waste disposal and water scarcity. The objective of the project was to deal with climate-sensitive health risks. Some of the achievements in Barbados were disease prevention, a quick and reliable response system and better storage for rainwater. Only six other countries participated: Bhutan, China, Fiji, Kenya, Jordan and Uzbekistan.

  7. In 2019 there were 100 AIDS-related deaths. Ninety-two percent of the population living with AIDS know their status. According to the Ministry of Health, there have been no babies born with HIV in the past six decades, which is a significant accomplishment.

  8. In 2017, the homicide rate was 10.5 cases per 100,000 population. The most common crimes are drug-related and residential burglaries.

These eight facts about life expectancy in Barbados show that the country is well on its way to being a prospering nation. While there are some challenges, the quality of life in Barbados is on the higher side of the spectrum compared to other Caribbean countries. With a focus on disease control and prevention, as well as continued better access to health care, the life expectancy rate could increase over the next 10 years.

Taylor Pittman
Photo: Flickr

Heart Diseases in the CaribbeanHeart disease and related illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, and stroke, are devastating illnesses that according to World Health Organization (WHO) are on the rise. According to the WHO, 17.9 million people die of cardiovascular-related deaths each year and over 75 percent of these deaths occur in developing countries. A UN report in 2017 stated that Pacific and Caribbean regions had 14 of the top 25 obese countries in the world. “The Panorama” a report put out by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN cited that malnutrition and obesity heavily affect low-income families, women, indigenous communities, rural communities and people of African Descent. Studies have for decades indicated that people of Afro Caribbean descent are more likely to experience high blood pressure. However, recently heart disease in the Caribbean continues to rise at a fast pace.

Factors Contributing to Heart Disease

There are several risk factors that contribute to heart disease. According to the World Health Organization, reducing salt intake, reducing alcohol intake, avoiding tobacco, eating fruits and vegetables and getting physically active consistently can reduce cardiovascular disease. Low-income families are at risk because of a lack of proper health-care. The WHO stated that opportunities for early intervention are often missed because primary health care programs aren’t always available to low-income families. Late detections of cardiovascular diseases more often than not mean early deaths.

The Financial Impact of Cardiovascular Disease on Families

Caring for someone with cardiovascular disease can be time and energy-consuming, and without sufficient healthcare, paying for the bills out of pocket heavily impacts families. According to the WHO, cardiovascular diseases further contribute to poverty. According to a Harvard study, by 2020 the Global cost of Heart Diseases will rise by 22 percent. The current global cost of cardiovascular diseases is $863 billion. As cardiovascular diseases rise countries must spend money on screening, primary and secondary prevention, hospital care, and lost productivity due to premature deaths.

Jamaica and Barbados Hit by The Risk of Heart Disease

Countries like Barbados and Jamaica demonstrate that heart disease in the Caribbean is becoming more prevalent. In 2015 Barbados reported spending $64 million treating cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, and an economic loss of $145 million dollars. Surveys done in schools in Barbados found that 18 percent of students eat fast food more than twice a week and nearly three-quarters of students drink soda more than once a day.

Jamaica is also experiencing an alarming rise in cardiovascular-related diseases. In early 2018, a report found that in 2017 30,000 children in Jamaica between the ages of 10 and 19 had been diagnosed with hypertension. In Trinidad and Tobago, the situation is similar to one out of every four deaths being caused by a noncommunicable disease with heart disease as the leading cause.

The Reason Behind Cardiovascular Disease

The rise in heart disease in the Caribbean over the years is concerning. In Barbados, Sir Trevor Hassell, the President of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition believes that an increase in processed foods and a decrease in “locally grown indigenous staples” are to blame. The director of George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill, Barbados, Professor Alafia Samuels said, “We do not eat the way our grandmothers used to eat. In the Caribbean, we have been importing more and more food and some of the main things that we are importing are the things that are leading to some of the challenges.”

Looking to the Future

Despite these harrowing statistics, there is hope. Expansive efforts to tackle cardiovascular disease in the Caribbean have been taken. In 2017 The Healthy Caribbean Coalition enacted the Civil Society Action Plan 2017-2021: Preventing Childhood Obesity in the Caribbean.The plan aims to bring the rising trend of obesity to a complete 360-turn by 2025. By collaborating with governments, civil society organizations, and other international partners, the HCC will tackle childhood obesity on a number of different levels. Some of the HCC’s top priorities are Trade and fiscal policies, nutrition literacy, early childhood nutrition, marketing of healthy and unhealthy foods and beverages to children, school-and-community based interventions, and resource mobilization. Upon providing assistance and education to the citizens and their governments alike, the HCC will positively impact the health conditions of the people in the Caribbean.

 Desiree Nestor
Photo: Flickr