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

 

Preventing Global Diseases in Barbados

Clinical trials test whether or not, and how, a specific behavior is altered by a medical treatment, device, etc. They are mainly used to find out if a new treatment has side effects and is safe and effective. Some examples of clinical trials that are conducted include Cancer and HIV/AIDS. The reasons these trials are conducted are reducing the chances of diseases, finding a cure, or finding easier detection techniques. For example, clinical trials are preventing global diseases in Barbados.

Clinical Trials

Usually, only 10 percent of new drugs passed clinical trials before going onto the market, but now it is up to 15 percent, which shows that the qualifications and standards for new medications are higher. The probability of success (POS), within the process of getting a new medication approved, allows researchers to determine whether they want to pursue a drug. This helps with time management and effectiveness of preventing, treating and controlling diseases.

Clinical trials increase the chances of having effective treatments made available to the public and possibly at a lower cost. Typically, approximately 1,000 potential new medicines are tested before making it to the clinical trial. After passing this screening, there are four phases in the process of clinical trials: testing the toxicological effect; testing the safety, effectiveness, and dosage of medications; getting the FDA’s approval; and examining new uses for already approved drugs and treatments. These phases aid in preventing global diseases in Barbados.

Preventing Cancer

As of 2008, there was a combined death rate of 3,208 people in Barbados, due to various cancers including prostate, breast and lung cancer. Preventing global diseases in Barbados, such as prostate cancer among men and breast cancer among women, are a top priority.

Most cancer screening and early detection methods, such as a cervical cytology (PAP), mammograms and bowel (physically or through colonoscopy), are available through primary health care. However, at least 7,000 households live in poverty and possibly lack access to basic health care.

Funding Clinical Trials to Help Prevent Global Diseases

Some challenges faced in forming and maintaining clinical trials, that could help in preventing global diseases in Barbados, are the timeline and funding. A proper, successful clinical trial may take 10 to 15 years to complete. On the other hand, the clinical trial for a respiratory disease may cost approximately $35,300,000.

One possible solution to the issue of funding is to increase the 7.5 percent of Barbados’ gross domestic product (GDP) dedicated to health, or become more active in nonprofits and earn money through awareness and action.

For instance, the Clara Lionel Foundation is a nonprofit organization started by singer Rihanna and has successfully opened the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and installed three cancer detection pieces:  the equinox external beam, the brachytherapy system and the gamma camera CT scan. These three pieces of equipment help analyze and eradication cancer throughout the body.

By investing in Barbados’ GDP and more nonprofits, such as the Clara Lionel Foundation, clinical trials will be able to continue working toward preventing global diseases in Barbados.

– Jessica Ramtahal
Photo: Pixabay


On August 15-17, 2017, a workshop was held to prioritize citizen security and crime reduction throughout the Southern and Eastern Caribbean region. The conference was a start in the process of reducing crime and violence in Barbados, one of the countries that participated in the workshop.

CariSECURE Project

The conference was organized through the Strengthening Evidence Based Decision Making for Citizen Security in the Caribbean Project (CariSECURE). The essential goal of the project is to decrease the incidence of youth crime and violence through policy-making and programming throughout the Southern and Eastern Caribbean region.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to formulate the CariSECURE toolkit, funded fully by the USAID.

The USAID consulted with many regional stakeholders, including 10 delegates from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Caribbean Community Secretariat, in development of reducing crime and violence in Barbados and other Caribbean countries.

What does CariSECURE Do?

The CariSECURE project advances citizen security data management, analysis and monitoring for reduction of crime and violence in Caribbean countries. Through reporting on citizen security patterns, the project converts quantitative data into valuable qualitative information, which then enables public servants the ability to generate data-driven results.

The project relies on the ideas of intervention logic by focusing on problem prevention rather than addressing the problem after it occurs. Identifying the problem, recognizing the risk factors, developing preventive strategies and adopting the preventive strategies are the four essential steps of intervention logic.

Barbados National Task Force for the CariSECURE Project

To help implement the ideas of CariSECURE, Barbados developed a National Task Force to instill administration and coordination of the project to reduce crime and violence in Barbados.

Mr. Stephen O’Malley, Resident Representative, UNDP Barbados and the OECS described that“the National Task Force will be particularly helpful in driving the management and coordination of the Toolkit” in Barbados and the whole Caribbean.

The National Task Force was officially launched on February 21, 2018 in Bridgetown, Barbados by the Honourable Adriel D. Brathwaite, the Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs in Barbados. Law-enforcement officials assisted in the launching of the National Task Force, which is the official implementation of CariSECURE in Barbados.

The Barbados National Task Force is composed of senior staff members from various public institutions that deal with crime and violence, which include the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Probation Department, the Courts, the Department of Public Prosecution, Prisons, the Statistical Service, Government Industrial School and the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit.

A Step in the Right Direction

The Honourable Brathwaite described how “reliable data provides an invaluable resource for the development and implementation of evidence-based policies and programs which have the potential to reduce crime and violence among the youth population.” The CariSECURE project was implemented by the National Task Force to secure an effective means in reducing crime and violence in Barbados.

– Andrea Quade

Photo: Flickr

Water quality in BarbadosBarbados was an uninhabited island in the Caribbean until the British settled the island in 1627. Slaves were taken there from Africa to work in the sugar plantations. Slavery was abolished in 1834, but the economy remained largely dependent on sugar, rum and molasses during most of the 20th century.

Barbados has moved from an economy heavily dependent on agriculture to one focused on manufacturing and tourism. Although the economy has shifted, the sugar industry still plays an important role in the economy. Besides sugarcane, farmers also grow cotton, root crops and vegetables.

Water quality in Barbados can be compromised by pollution from agriculture, industry and urban development. The island nation is listed as a water-scarce country because of the depletion of the water reserves during the 20th century. To address this, strict standards were developed for the use of drinking water. Because of the high demand for water on the island coupled with an inadequate supply, the nation built a desalination plant in 2000. Despite this, the water quality in Barbados is still questioned.

The Daily Herald reported in 2016 that there were rumors circulating on social media suggesting that contaminated water was responsible for a string of deaths during the summer of 2016. According to the rumors, there was lead in the newly installed water meters.

The Barbados Water Authority responded with a statement saying that the meters contained no lead. They were made from plastic and brass and manufactured in Germany. The water meters were approved by the German Environmental Agency under the German Drinking Water Ordinance of 2013.

They also stated that the meters were being used in 22 other countries including France, Spain and Ireland. In addition, the water supply is tested twice a year for heavy metals and pesticides. Tests conducted in March 2016 showed that lead levels were under the limits and drinking water was within standards.

The government of Barbados created a policy that designated five Groundwater Protection Zones around the island. This helped protect public supply wells from contamination from bacteria, which is a significant step towards improving water quality in Barbados.

– Fernando Vasquez

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Barbados

Barbados is an eastern Caribbean island that, along with other Caribbean nations, has faced problems with malnourishment. Hunger in Barbados and other Caribbean countries was a major issue between 1990 and 1992 when there were an estimated 8.1 million malnourished citizens in these countries.

However, by 2016, that number decreased to 7.5 million, improving by 7.4 percent. Barbados is also one of the leaders in the Caribbean when it comes to ending malnourishment. Barbados, along with Guyana and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, met the global hunger target set at the World Food Summit in 1996. Hunger in Barbados is nearly gone; the estimated rate of malnourishment in Barbados is less than 5 percent.

Barbados has taken great steps towards ending hunger; however, Barbados has a new problem: childhood obesity. At the National Committee Monitoring the Rights of the Child, Consultant Pediatrician from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Professor Anne St. John gave a speech. She praised Barbados for conquering malnutrition and the illnesses that go along with it, but then said, “now we have gone from under-feeding to overeating, and obesity is a form of malnutrition.”

Dr. St. John also explained that the average Barbadian is now eating 400 more calories a day than they were just 30 years earlier. According to a 2005 study, about 27 percent of students in primary school are obese, which could be a result of these extra calories that mostly come from fat and snacks. Dr. St. John believes that cultural practices and traditions may be a contributing factor to this weight gain in adolescents. She says that some parents claim their child is a picky eater, but some parents take more drastic measures. She has heard stories of parents hitting their children with a belt or ruler if they do not finish their plate or some resort to “shoveling food down the child’s throat”.

Along with the increase in calorie intake, the idea around exercise at a young age has also affected obesity rates. Dr. St. John explained that when children begin choosing classes in the third form, some schools do not have physical education as a requirement, so some students no longer take it. Also, students’ parents are using conditions such as asthma as an excuse to take them out of these classes, when in reality they should stay in, as it helps increase their lung capacity.

Barbados is working on ways to stop this increase in childhood obesity, such as removing mascots from children’s cereal like Tony the Tiger. Children may choose these cereals based on the characters when in reality they are full of sugar and less healthy than alternatives. Educators are also trying to teach children that fruit juices, though they contain fruit in the name, are actually unhealthy based on the added sugars. Like hunger in Barbados, obesity is another issue that Barbadians will be sure to solve.

Scott Kesselring

Photo: Flickr

Help People in BarbadosBarbados, an independent British Commonwealth island nation, is the most flourishing country in the Caribbean area, with free education and accessible healthcare. However, there is still a need to help people in Barbados.

The country has made it a priority to provide efficient and accessible healthcare to include physical, mental, and social help. Because of this, such issues as infant and child mortality rates have decreased, and vaccines have greatly reduced preventable diseases. In addition, according to Commonwealth Health Online, there has been a decline in the AIDS fatality rate as well as an increase in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission.

Unfortunately, Barbados still struggles with the lack innovations in healthcare and patients’ growing expectations, as well as a failure to combat communicable and chronic non-communicable diseases, with HIV/AIDS as the exception. The government hopes to implement some changes, including supplying services in a more cost effective way, developing and integrating delivering services, and fulfilling unmet and vulnerable needs.

Concerning education, the Barbados government pays for schooling and provides compulsory primary school, from age five to eleven; compulsory secondary school, eleven to sixteen; and optional tertiary school, which is post-secondary education. But even with the seemingly sound educational system, some of the high standards have been declining over the past decade, due to negative attitudes from the students, poor academic performances, and the lack of technology to aid in the success of students.

To help people in Barbados regarding education, workshops have been developed to help teachers teach students better. The government has plans to help strengthen the technological infrastructure, to better teacher training, and to recognize teacher’s contributions to the nation-building actions.

While the health and education systems are taking strides to improve, there are still major issues in the country, such as the lack of space and inefficient land use. According to the 2010 National Environment Summary, there is the possible threat of land degradation and droughts. There is also inadequate waste management in Barbados

In addition, there is the insufficient reliability of freshwater. There are between 96-98 percent of homes connected to the public water supply, while the rest just have slight access. The ground water supply is deemed fair, providing disinfected water. But, the development of sewage treatment plants is necessary to finally dispose from homes via septic tanks.

To help people in Barbados dealing with land, drought, and water issues, the charities listed below are active on the island. Donations or volunteer work can directly assist those citizens who are most in need on Barbados.

Verdun House
Future Centre Trust
Caribbean Permaculture Research Institute
Variety the Children’s Charity

Chavez Spicer

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in BarbadosBarbados is a tiny island in the Caribbean. Many visit Barbados to enjoy the island’s lush greenery and warm sun. However, there are still causes of poverty in Barbados that impact the residents deeply. Locals contend with poverty on different scales, with the youth of Barbados struggling to overcome poverty.

Lack of Opportunities
The job market in Barbados is somewhat narrow, constrained by stigma and discrimination. Job seekers may be discriminated against because of their age, gender, migrant status or even their area of residence.

Job seekers are also restricted by their social networks. While those looking for jobs usually look in newspapers, with 50.7 percent seeking out newspaper advertisements, word of mouth plays a large role in landing jobs for youth. Approximately 36.3 percent used word of mouth as a tool for job hunting.

The problem with using word of mouth information is that individuals are limited to seeking jobs only through their social networks. Individuals have to expand their social networks in order to land jobs through word of mouth.

Education
Financial issues prevent youths from accessing education. Unfortunately, without access to quality education, the youth of Barbados are limited in the job market.

On the other end of the spectrum, those who are highly qualified with certifications expect to find high-paying jobs. However, when these high-paying jobs are not available because of the local economy, educated youths become discouraged in their job hunt. Approximately 21 percent of voluntarily unemployed youths did not want to work because of the stark difference between their qualifications and the availability of jobs.

At Home
When youths are unable to find jobs because of limited contacts or poor education, they remain dependents in their households. This means that there are large households with fewer resources for every member in the family.

High fertility rates and large numbers of children mean that households are fairly large already, stretching families’ financial resources. A lack of financial support from children’s fathers means that household revenues are low.

When families’ financial resources are stretched, youths are not able to economically access the education or social networks they need. This perpetuates the cycle of economic instability and families continue to face poverty.

A Solution?
In 2012, the government of Barbados established a poverty intervention scheme, titled the Implementation Stabilisation Enablement and Empowerment Bridge Programme.

Trained social workers led the program for two years, acting as household facilitators and supervisors.

The ultimate goal of the program is to encourage self-reliance and more importantly, self-introspection by families. Families can then make empowering long-term plans based on their individual situations.

The government’s implementation of such a program bodes well for the predominantly socioeconomic causes of poverty in Barbados.

Smriti Krishnan

Photo: Flickr

Barbados Poverty RateSince the 1950s, the Barbados economy has been drastically overhauled. Transforming from a primarily agricultural economy to one that is primarily service and innovation oriented, Barbados has continued to modernize its economy over the past half century. However, a large part of its economy is based on the tourism industry – one that is notorious for slow growth – leaving 26.2 percent of the population unemployed.

The Barbados poverty rate stands at 19 percent for individuals. This is a significant increase from the 13.9 percent poverty rate reported in 1998, and it does not bode well for an economy largely dependent on foreign tourism. Though the poverty line has shifted in the right direction, with the average income increasing from $5503 to $7860, the country acknowledges that there is much work to be done.

To combat the rising Barbados poverty rate, the ISEE Bridge Project was started. The acronym ISEE stands for the four steps the government has identified as necessary to help reduce poverty in Barbados.

The first part of the program has already been completed: identification of vulnerable populations and people living below the poverty line who desperately need help. Next comes stabilization, or addressing the most pressing needs. Following stabilization comes enablement, where necessary skills are imparted. The final step of the ISEE Bridge Program is empowerment, or providing individuals with all the support they need to succeed and excel.

The ISEE Bridge Program began in 2015, has helped 30 families so far and will expand to serve more than 250 families. This program is a small portion of the initiative that has been committed to ameliorating the Barbados poverty rate.

Other facets of the initiative will address specific groups such as retrenched workers and at-risk youth aged 16 to 30. With a high Global Development Index score and firm commitments to the future of its people, Barbados is well on its way toward increasing living standards and alleviating poverty countrywide.

Connor S. Keowen

Photo: Google

Avoiding Common Diseases in Barbados
Barbados, the Caribbean island that rests the furthest east into the Atlantic Ocean, has a diverse population of about 280,000 people. English is the official language and the island has a literacy rate of nearly 100 percent, one of the highest literacy rates worldwide. Barbadians also enjoy high water quality, which reduces the number of waterborne illnesses that affect many other Caribbean countries. However, there are several common diseases in Barbados to be aware of.

The disease with the largest fatal impact in Barbados is cancer, comprising 29 percent of deaths. Cardiovascular diseases come in at a close second as the reason for 28 percent of deaths. All non-communicable diseases together are estimated to cause 84 percent of deaths, and most of the time other common diseases in Barbados cause more pain and inconvenience than fatalities. Tourists should be aware of hepatitis A, hepatitis E, typhoid fever, chikungunya and malaria when preparing to visit Barbados and should take all possible precautions to avoid contracting one of these illnesses.

Zika, the disease that caused a mass panic in 2016, has been reported to be active in Barbados. Spread by mosquitoes, those who contract the virus often do not suffer any symptoms. When sickness occurs, it tends to be mild. The disease has caused fear due to its link to congenital disabilities, which can in some cases be extremely serious. Expectant mothers or women who expect to become pregnant should be particularly wary of this virus and avoid traveling to Barbados.

Barbados has also been suffering from a syphilis outbreak for the past six years. Most victims are male, with an average age of 34 years. Cases of syphilis have stabilized in the last biennium, but doctors still advise travelers and citizens to only engage in sexual activity in a safe manner. This STD is one of the common diseases in Barbados and can be extremely severe if left unchecked.

The number of cases of dengue fever, a painful infection that causes a high fever, nausea and headaches, has risen significantly in Barbados since 2015. The disease, like the Zika virus and chikungunya, is spread by mosquito bite. Those living in and visiting the country should take precautions against mosquito bites to avoid these common diseases in Barbados.

With proper care and preparation, most of the common diseases in Barbados can be prevented.

Julia Mccartney

Photo: Flickr