Cancer Care in MauritiusMauritius is an African island nation, located approximately 500 miles east of Madagascar, with a population of around 1,235,000 people. Like many low and middle-income countries (LMICs), Mauritius has high rates of cancer diagnoses and deaths. However, government programs, with the help of international funding and collaboration, are helping to improve the nation’s cancer survival rate by targeting early diagnosis, healthier lifestyles and more advanced forms of treatment.

Cancer in LMICs

While cancer deaths are falling in high-income countries due to successful funding of prevention programs and modern health care technologies, the number of people dying from cancer in LMICs is on the rise. Around 60% of new cancer cases globally are diagnosed in LMICs. Furthermore, where less than half of cancer patients in high-income nations die from the disease, 66% of those diagnosed in LMICs do not survive it.

Challenges when trying to reduce cancer-related deaths in LMICs include the cost of cancer medication and relevant medical technologies, a dearth of oncology specialists and the perception that it is not a major public health issue. Across Africa, only 23 countries possess radiation therapy centers. Radiation, the most common cancer treatment, is not available to those in 29 African nations unless they can travel abroad. In the last 20 years, cancer cases have doubled in the continent.

Cancer Care in Mauritius

In May 2021, the Mauritian government announced to establish two new hospitals, designed to specialize in cancer care by late 2022. These are the now-operational and internationally recognized cancer centers, Coromandel Hospital and the St. Helene Clinic. Groupe Filatex, an energy company based in Madagascar funded the project. The company provided the estimated funding of $50 million to PolyClinique De L’Ouest Ltee to execute the project. The new centers have provided 230 beds dedicated to cancer patients and their treatment. Prior to this intervention, cancer care in Mauritius struggled to meet demand, with only one radiotherapy and oncology center available.

In 2019, cancer was the third most common cause of death for Mauritians, accounting for approximately 12.8% of mortalities that year. In recent years, the Mauritius National Cancer Registry has recorded an increase in cancer diagnoses for both men and women. The five most common types of cancer in Mauritian men are prostate, colorectal, lung, stomach and lymphoma. Among the nation’s women, the most common types of cancer are breast, uterus, colorectal, ovary and cervix uteri.

The Mauritian government has announced more projects to build on the success of the existing cancer centers. In 2022, the government decided to invest in another state-of-the-art cancer hospital, this time in Solferino. The new center will provide treatment with the use of technologies such as 3-D conformal Radiotherapy, Image-Guided Radiation Therapy and Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy. The radiology unit will have X-ray, CT-scan, MRI, echography and mammography machines and the hospital will include stem cell and bone marrow transplant units.

Looking Ahead

Mauritius has already made considerable progress in improving cancer prevention and care. It has significantly reduced the number of cervical cancer cases through efforts like its HPV vaccination and screening program. The nation has also created a National Cancer Control Program (operating from 2022 to 2025) to support improvements in early diagnoses, research, treatment and palliative care. These efforts and trends offer hope for even more progress in the fight against cancer in Mauritius.

– Martha Probert
Photo: Wikimedia

Human Trafficking in Mauritius
The United States Department of State ranks the island nation of Mauritius as a Tier 2 country in 2022 in terms of efforts to eradicate human trafficking. This rank, unchanged from 2021, means the “Government of Mauritius does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.”

5 Facts About Human Trafficking in Mauritius

  1. Migration. Mauritius saw almost 30,000 migrants in 2019. The increase in migration and lack of regulation has affected human trafficking in Mauritius. Financial difficulties and rising unemployment rates mean many low-income migrants and their families are susceptible to trafficking and exploitation.
  2. COVID-19 Pandemic. According to Statistics Mauritius, “Relative to the first quarter of 2020, the number of employed declined by almost 129,400 units” and 18% of households reported a loss of more than half their income. Moreso, the overall unemployment rate rose to more than 10% by May 2020 from around 7%. These economic factors put many low-income workers at greater risk of exploitation, particularly in terms of human trafficking.
  3. Children. Children are at significant risk of exploitation in Mauritius. In June 2022, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, Mama Fatima Singhateh, visited Mauritius to “promote strategies that prevent and combat the sale and sexual exploitation of children.” The 10-day-long visit aimed to tackle topics such as “the protection of children against sexual exploitation, child marriage, child trafficking for sexual exploitation, the exploitation of children living in the streets and the sale of children through illegal adoptions,” according to the website of the U.N. Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. Singhateh also held the purpose of examining Mauritius’ progress in addressing the exploitation of children since the last country visit in 2011.
  4. Laws. The Mauritian government has ratified several International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions, such as ILO 29 Forced Labour convention on December 2, 1969, and the ILO 182 Worst forms of Child Labor on June 8, 2000. These conventions solidify Mauritius’s commitment to eradicating issues relating to human trafficking. In addition, laws such as the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act of 2009, which criminalizes sex trafficking and labor trafficking, and the Children’s Act of 2020, which criminalizes child sex trafficking, show the government’s attempt to combat this issue on a legislative level.
  5. Challenges. An obstacle for the government is that traffickers utilize multiple methods to exploit their victims. Family members or domestic partners are often complicit in the exploitation of girls for sex trafficking. Traffickers also work with Russian and Kazakh criminal networks to exploit and move women into Mauritius from places such as Belarus and Ukraine. Additionally, more than 35,000 workers in the manufacturing and construction sector, hailing mainly from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar and Nepal, are most at risk of forced labor.

Looking Ahead

Regardless of the challenges, according to the U.S. Department of State, the Mauritian government showed positive efforts against trafficking. These include increased services for identified child trafficking victims, working alongside a global organization to “renovate a shelter and repatriate foreign victims identified in previous years,” educating migrant workers on how to identify situations of trafficking and “reconvening the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Trafficking in Persons (IMCTIP) after it was inactive for two years,” the U.S. Department of State website says.

Though human trafficking is an issue of concern in Mauritius, the government is implementing strong measures to ensure the nation’s most vulnerable citizens are protected from trafficking and exploitation.

– Saad Haque
Photo: Flickr

Period Poverty in Mauritius
Period poverty in Mauritius exists due to the unaffordability of menstrual products, leading girls and women to resort to unsanitary alternatives such as handkerchiefs, pieces of fabric and newspapers. The stigma surrounding menstruation accentuates the issue of period poverty in Mauritius. Organizations such as The Ripple Project are taking action to make menstrual supplies more accessible and raise awareness about the importance of proper menstrual hygiene to maintain good health.

A Barrier to Gender Equality

According to a UNDP article in 2021, in terms of gender equality, Mauritius ranks in the top six in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the existence of period poverty in Mauritius stands as a barrier to further gender equality advancements. In 2017, gender equality activist Trisha Gukhool started a petition for the Mauritian government to provide free menstrual products to girls and women.

In the 2017-2018 budget reform, the Ministry of Finance announced the removal of taxes on pads and tampons. Unfortunately, even without tax, period products are still unaffordable for impoverished and disadvantaged girls and women in the country.

Local Activism

Female activists in Mauritius have continued to advocate for free menstrual products. The non-governmental organization Raise Brave Girls, which Prisheela Mottee founded, set up a petition for the national budget 2021-2022 to prioritize the distribution of free period products to vulnerable women and school girls. The petition also calls for menstrual leave that is not deductible from annual sick leave.

The petition, which gathered more than 5,000 signatures, saw some success. The Ministry of Finance announced that girls from grades six to 13, registered under the Social Register of Mauritius, would receive free sanitary pads.

The Ripple Project

The Ripple Project is an initiative that activist Djemillah Mourade-Peerbux set up in 2016 after realizing that the expense of sanitary products is one that many Mauritian girls and women cannot afford. At the time, about 1,000 Mauritian rupees could only buy basic hygiene products for two people.

Fast forward five years and the project became an association, devoted solely to fighting menstrual taboos and providing menstrual products to women and girls experiencing period poverty in Mauritius. Mourade-Peerbux collects monetary and menstrual product donations and distributes them to shelters across the island.

The association also takes into account the power of advocacy. The Ripple Project runs campaigns to raise awareness about period poverty and the importance of menstrual health. Mourade-Peerbux is advocating for the free period product allowance to extend to all females, even those who are not part of the Social Register of Mauritius.

The Ripple Project team relies on partners and donors to secure and distribute period-related products to hundreds of women throughout the year. The feminine hygiene brand Saforelle is supporting The Ripple Project through a campaign. For every intimate hygiene cleanser sold, Saforelle will donate three Mauritian rupees to The Ripple Project. This campaign will run until December 31, 2022, The Ripple Project’s Facebook page says.

Looking Ahead

Although progress is visible, period poverty in Mauritius is still an issue. Advocacy and campaigns will continue until all Mauritian girls and women have constant and reliable access to menstrual products. By dissolving the stigma surrounding menstruation and extending access, further progress could be visible.

– Alexandra Piat
Photo: Flickr

Health Care in Mauritius
Mauritius, an African island nation in the Indian Ocean, had been an agrarian society with high unemployment rates and low per capita GDP for much of its history as an independent nation. However, in recent years, the country has shifted to having a diversified economy, high employment rates and higher life expectancy. Mauritius reached a per capita GDP of around $11,000 in 2018, and in 2020, achieved an all-time-high employment rate of 93.63%. In an April 2020 Poverty and Equity Brief, the World Bank highlights that Mauritius has eradicated extreme poverty. Along with these milestones, health care in Mauritius has also shown tremendous progress as the main cause of mortality shifted from infectious diseases to degenerative diseases, signaling the advancement of health care technology and policies.

5 Facts About Health Care in Mauritius

  1. Free Public Health Care. Public health care in Mauritius is free for its residents. In 2017, public health institutions provided for around 73% of the health requirements of the population while private institutions addressed 27% of these needs. The number of physicians per 1,000 people has also increased from 1.2 in 2010 to 2.5 in 2018. Additionally, as of 2021, Mauritius’ health care infrastructure consists of “five major regional public hospitals, four specialized public hospitals, two public district hospitals, two cardiac centers, 19 private clinics and hospitals and 30 medical laboratories.”
  2. The Health Care System Shifts to Develop High-Value Activities. Mauritius is promoting an increase in medical tourism, seeking to reign in more profit for its health industry. In fact, “in 2017, Mauritius attracted more than 11,500 foreign patients for treatment” in cosmetic surgery, orthopedics, fertility treatment and other specialized areas. As more investment pours into the sector, advancements in infrastructure can potentially attract more foreign patients.
  3. Health Care is One of the Government’s Main Priorities. Health care in Mauritius is Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth’s main priority as he looks to improve the health care system by further addressing non-communicable diseases. Mauritius’ minister of finance, Renganaden Padayachy, whose role is to manage economic activities, is also prioritizing health care in Mauritius by expanding the public health care budget. In 2019-2020, 9.5% of the total budget went to the public health sector, marking a 7.4% increase from the previous year.
  4. Government Commitment in Addressing Health Care Challenges. One of the main challenges health care in Mauritius faces is ineffective distribution and mix of human resources in terms of numbers and skillsets of health workers. In response, the government recruited 538 medical and non-medical personnel in 2020 to receive training on primary health care services, such as immunization programs. Another challenge is Mauritius’ reliance on a paper-based administration form that proved to be inefficient. In January 2021, Mauritius launched an e-health project “to modernize the actual health care system and to make a transition to a technologically-based medical service.”
  5. Advancements in Medical Equipment. Mauritius is promoting the development of high-tech medical tools in the industry. In 2020, Mauritius imported around $30.5 million worth of medical equipment and exported $32 million of medical equipment. In 2021, Mauritius had six medical device manufacturers providing job opportunities to about 600 people.

Looking Ahead

At the onset of the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) placed Mauritius among the African nations at significant “risk of a public health disaster” due to its dense population, a high proportion of elderly citizens and high rate of chronic illnesses. However, Mauritius’ progress and commitment to protecting the health and wellness of its citizens proved to be key in combating COVID-19 as Mauritius emerged as one of the few coronavirus-free places on Earth. Mauritius avoided WHO’s prediction by immediately implementing public health safety measures such as lockdowns, mass testing and contact tracing.

With continued progress in the health care arena, Mauritius stands as a beacon of hope and inspiration to post-colonial countries that progress is possible.

– Samyukta Gaddam
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

updates on sdg goal 15 in mauritiusMauritius is an island nation of 1.3 million people situated in the Indian Ocean about 700 miles to the east of Madagascar. The island is home to incredibly unique and rare species found nowhere else on the planet, although many have gone extinct in recent decades. One of Earth’s most famous extinct species, the dodo, was a flightless bird endemic to Mauritius. Unfortunately, updates on SDG Goal 15 in Mauritius reveal ongoing problems for biodiversity in the country.

The U.N. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15, Life on Land, tracks each nation’s attempt to “protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.” For this goal, Mauritius has the dire U.N. classification of “major challenges remain.” Still, valiant organizations are striving to protect the stunning species and ecosystems found in Mauritius. Here are four updates on SDG Goal 15 in Mauritius.

4 Updates on SDG Goal 15 in Mauritius

  1. The mean area protected in terrestrial sites is important to biodiversity. This statistic is particularly important in Mauritius’s case due to the array of endemic species found on the island. The average area protected for these crucial sites is just over 9%. However, limited protection poses major challenges for protecting biodiversity and preventing native species from going extinct. Despite the efforts of groups like the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, the average protected area has risen by less than 1% since 2000. The fascinating species found within these habitats, like the extraordinary Mauritian flying fox, contribute to the beauty and wonder of the natural world. This may disappear if protected areas do not grow.
  2. Mauritius’ score on the Red List of species survival is getting worse. The Red List measures “the change in aggregate extinction risk across groups of species” with zero being the worst rating and one being the best. Mauritius comes in at 0.39 with its score decreasing steadily each year. Unfortunately, more and more species in Mauritius go extinct every year. There are, however, some success stories. For example, the Saint Telfair’s skink is an abnormally large species of skink (a type of lizard) only found on islands off the coast of Mauritius. The skink used to be dangerously near-extinct, with just 5,000 individuals. But the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust‘s careful recovery efforts have raised the population to 50,000 individuals. Thus, NGOs are fighting to save species from extinction in Mauritius.
  3. Mauritius struggles with the effects of permanent deforestation. This phenomenon occurs when people cut down trees for urbanization or agriculture with no plan to re-plant them. Updates on SDG Goal 15 in Mauritius are the most positive for this statistic. However, challenges remain, as less than 2% of Mauritius’ original forest coverage survives. According to Douglas Adams in “Last Chance to See,” “[v]ast swathes of the Mauritius forest have been destroyed to provide space to grow a cash crop [sugar] which in turn destroys our teeth.” Thankfully, NGOs like Fondation Ressources et Nature are carrying out reforestation projects in Mauritian biodiversity hotspots. The One Million Trees Project also aims to plant one million trees in Mauritius by 2030.
  4. Imports threaten terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity in Mauritius. There is only one nation (Guyana) in the entire world that has a worse ranking than Mauritius in this category. Industrialized nations like the U.S., Canada, Japan and many E.U. countries also struggle with this goal. However, none come close to Mauritius’s ranking. Furthermore, imports that threaten biodiversity in Mauritius only compound the rest of the island’s ecological problems.

Moving Forward

Overall, the forecast for life on land and in Mauritius is grim. Biodiversity hotspots are severely threatened, leading to more species going extinct each year. Additionally, permanent deforestation decimates habitats, and Mauritians’ dependence on imports ravages native species. The country needs to make a concerted effort to save its amazing organisms and environments found nowhere else on Earth. Organizations like the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation are already doing this work, and they could use more international support if Mauritius is to progress on SDG Goal 15.

Spencer Jacobs
Photo: Needpix

mauritius oil spillMauritius is an island nation off the east coast of Africa with a population of fewer than 1.3 million people. In 2019, less than 1% of the population of Mauritius lived below the international poverty line. On July 25, the Japanese-owned oil tanker, the MV Wakashio, ran aground and leaked more than 1000 metric tons of oil into the waters at Pointe d’Esny near “two environmentally protected marine ecosystems and the Blue Bay Marine Park reserve.” As the international community comes together to assist in clean-up efforts, human hair could be a potential solution to the Mauritius oil spill.

Why the Mauritius Oil Spill Needs Urgent Aid

The economy of Mauritius relies heavily on tourism and ocean activities. The tourism industry makes up almost a quarter of the GDP, and another 10% comes from activities reliant on the water, such as fishing. Tourists visit the island nation for its beaches and marine life.  Since the waters surrounding the country are now polluted with oil, the MV Wakashio spill poses a serious threat to the economy of Mauritius as well as the natural environment.

The Science and History a Surprising Solution

Hair was first studied as a solution after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1989. After noticing that hair absorbed oil at the salon he owned, Phil McCrory of Alabama began studying human hair as a potential tool for cleaning up oil spills. He was awarded two patents for devices made of human hair that sucked up oil from water.
Hair is highly absorptive and has been shown to take in up to nine times its weight in oil. While hair is a potential solution to the Mauritius oil spill, this is not the first time it’s been used for this purpose. Human hair specifically has been used as a clean-up tool after other oil spills. Hair-stuffed nylon stockings were also successfully used in 2010 to assist in clean-up efforts following the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

A study released a week before the Mauritius oil spill found human hair to be as effective as synthetic materials in clean-ups. A study conducted by the University of Technology Sydney comparing plastic-based materials commonly used to clean up oil spills to organic materials found that hair is successful at absorbing oil from ocean and solid land environments. According to this study, hair is as good as synthetic materials when it comes to absorbing oil from land and hard surfaces.

How Human Hair Can Help in Mauritius

Hair salons around Mauritius have been offering free and discounted hair cuts in order to donate the trimmings to clean-up efforts. Volunteers stuff the hair into stockings and use it to both corral the oil, preventing its spread, and absorb it from the water. Hair donations from around the world are also being shipped to the country to provide additional assistance.

Human hair is a potential solution to the Mauritius oil spill and is a useful tool in clean-ups after any future spills as it is in constant supply, affordable and natural and therefore more quickly biodegradable than synthetic materials such as the plastics traditionally used in clean-ups. The country’s economy relies heavily on the Indian Ocean surrounding it for both tourism and fishing, so finding affordable and sustainable means of absorbing the spillage from the MV Wakashio, such as human hair, is necessary to maintain the economy of the country and prevent the spread of devastation and poverty.

Sydney Leiter
Photo: Pixabay

Eradicating Poverty in Mauritius
Home to approximately 1.2 million people, the Republic of Mauritius is an island located off of the southeastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. Mauritius has a complicated history of Dutch, French and British colonization, though it gained independence in 1968. Previously, the economy of Mauritius emerged solely from sugar production. However, exports, tourism, agriculture and financial services are key pillars of today’s economy as the successful efforts to diversify since 1980. With a successful economy, less than 1% of the population of Mauritius was living on less than $1.25 per day in 2012. This means extreme poverty in Mauritius is rare.

Poverty Rate

The middle class is shrinking as relative poverty rates have been steadily increasing over time from 8.5% in 2007 to 9.8% in 2012. Additionally, it is important to note that within the Republic, Rodrigues Island has high rates of poverty. About 40% of the inhabitants live in poverty. This is due to its lack of exportable resources as well as the fact that it is not able to participate in the tourist industry.

Plans to Eradicate Poverty in Mauritius

The Social Integration and Empowerment Bill is in place in an effort to eradicate social exclusion and poverty. From 2017 to 2020 the Mauritian government has allocated $63 million to implement the plan from which the bill originated.

The three features of the Social Integration and Empowerment Bill are as follows:

  1. The School Completion Premium is a cash incentive to keep disadvantaged young people from dropping out of school before finishing their secondary education. This program also specifically focuses on young people on Rodrigues Island, where poverty rates are higher than the rest of the Republic.
  2. Social protections have emerged that target the poor. For example, universal pensions for all and subsidies for the elderly and students. These protections include universal basic pensions, free health services, free public transportation and free education. Without these protections, the poverty rate would have increased greatly. It is estimated that the 2017 poverty rate of 9.6% would have been 23% without any protections. In addition, the rate will be 16.1% without government-funded education services alone.
  3. The plan directs resources towards modernization by connecting the poor with mobile phones. As a result, this will give them access to a wider range of information and opportunities.

Other features of the Marshall Plan include the empowerment of women and youth. This will increase the human capital of the Republic and environmental protections which benefit the poor. The government’s commitment to ending poverty in Mauritius through policy and reforms reflects the resilience and spirit of the beautiful. With continued reforms and expansion of policies, poverty in Mauritius will likely continue to decrease.

Meg Sinnott
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Mauritius
Known for its tropical warm waters, the Republic of Mauritius is one of the major tourist destinations of the world. Mauritius has the highest life expectancy in the African continent, with a population of nearly 1.2 million. A nation’s life expectancy has proven time and again to be one of the major factors fostering its economic development. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Mauritius.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Mauritius

  1. According to the World Bank, the total life expectancy at birth in Mauritius stood at 74.5 years in 2017. Males live up to 71.3 years whereas females have a higher life expectancy, living up to almost 79 years. 
  2. As one of the top 10 free economies of the world, Mauritius has the second-highest GDP in the African continent and economists estimate the GDP per capita will reach $11,200 by the end of 2020. With a 3.8 percent growth rate, the island nation shows a great promise in improving the quality of life for its residents. Mauritius spent about 4.8 percent of the total GDP on health care in 2014.
  3. Ischemic heart disease and diabetes rank among the top two causes of death in Mauritius, although the number of deaths from diabetes has surged by 37 percent from 2007 to 2017. The Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, Mauritius Institute of Health and World Health Organisation (WHO) have suggested several dietary guidelines to regulate diabetes and other non-communicable diseases.
  4. Several islands like the island of Rodrigues suffer from extreme poverty and lack of access to basic amenities, which decreases life expectancy, even though Mauritius has one of the fastest-growing African economies. However, the economic inequality growing in the nation has been the primary target for The Marshall Plan Against Poverty which tackles several of these hindrances and plans to better the lives of communities falling under the poverty line. The plan allows the people living in absolute poverty to be on the receiving end of cash transfers and the support of social workers to help them battle the challenges faced because of their economic conditions.
  5. As a welfare state, the government of Mauritius provides free health care to its citizens, making it highly accessible. Medical care standards are very high with qualified health professionals attending 98 percent of childbirths, reducing the risk of infant mortality. Additionally, Mauritius had 1.06 physicians per 1,000 people in 2004. 
  6. Physical activity and way of life play a major role in life expectancy. With a surge in its non-communicable diseases, researchers found that only 23 percent of the adult Mauritius population engages in WHO’s recommended physical activity level, which is 150 minutes per week. According to Dr. Anwar Husnoo, the Minister of Health and Quality of Life, the number stooped to 19 percent in the case of young adults. He stated this at a December 2018 workshop in Quatre Bornes, to raise awareness of the importance of the physical activity.
  7. Many parts of the world still heavily stigmatize mental health and Mauritius is no exception. With only 1.6 psychiatrists available for 100,000 people in a country where 28.4 out of 1,000 citizens suffer from severe mental or substance abuse disorders, the nation still has a long way to increase its life expectancy. An upside to this is that the care and treatment of major health disorders receive complete coverage in the country’s health care schemes, making it easier for its citizens to approach treatments more openly.
  8. The infant mortality rate in Mauritius has been on a steady decline since 1969 from 62.8 deaths per 1,000 live births to 13.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018. This was due to the increase in medical standards and supervised childbirths. Access to vaccines has also played a key role. According to UNICEF, 99 percent of the children received doses of a measles-containing vaccine, as administered in the national schedule.
  9. The life expectancy of Mauritius’ male population tends to be less than that of the female population. Research that NCBI carried out analyzed the patterns in the influence of cause-of-death structure on age and found out that the infectious diseases were a major cause of death in younger Mauritian males, while circulatory causes like heart diseases resulted in major deaths among the older male population. Type 2 diabetes is still a major cause of death in Mauritian females, as it affects 21.3 percent of the female population of the country.
  10. The percentage of the urban population of a nation often contributes to its life expectancy. A higher urban population often means easier access to basic amenities and health care which reduces the mortality rate due to preventable causes. By 2018, 40.79 percent of the Mauritius population lived in urban areas. The current percentage has certainly contributed to the steady increase of the life expectancy in Mauritius even though it is nearly 4 percent less than the highest percentage of the urban population that Mauritius ever recorded (which was 44.1 percent).

Taking all these factors into consideration, there is no doubt that Mauritius is moving steadily forward in increasing its life expectancy and making better living conditions more accessible and possible for all sections of its population.

– Reshma Beesetty
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in MauritiusMauritius is a beautiful island nation located in the Indian Ocean, just off the coast of Southern Africa. Long-renowned for its beautiful beaches, Mauritius celebrates a vibrant history and complex mix of cultures. Vestiges of Portuguese, French and British control and long periods of labor migration left clear marks on the current society. Recent decades have been transformative for the country, starting with its independence in 1968. To grasp a better idea about how life evolved on the island, keep reading to learn 10 facts about living conditions in Mauritius.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Mauritius

  1. Mauritius was once a country with high fertility rates, averaging about 6.2 children per woman in 1963. A drastic decline in fertility rates took place, dropping to only 3.2 children per woman in 1972. This shift comes as a result of higher education levels, later marriages and the use of effective family planning methods for women. This is especially important for the island nation, as space and resources are limited.
  2. Mauritius has no indigenous populations, as years of labor migration and European colonialism created a unique ethnic mix. Two-thirds of the current population is Indo-Mauritian due to a great influx of indentured Indians in the 1800s, who eventually settled permanently on the island. Creole, Sino-Mauritian and Franco-Mauritian make up the remaining one-third of the population. However, it is important to note that Mauritius did not include a question on its national census about ethnicity since 1972.
  3.  The population density in Mauritius is one of the highest in the world, with 40.8 percent of the population living in urban environments. The greatest density is in and around Port Louis, the nation’s capital, with a population of 149,000 people living in the city proper alone.
  4. Close to the entire population of Mauritius has access to an improved drinking water source. In urban populations, 99.9 percent of the population has clean water access. There is a negligible difference in rural populations, with 99.8 percent of people accessing clean water. This is essential for the health and protection of populations from common waterborne diseases, like cholera and dysentery.
  5. In 2012, the government allocated 4.8 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to health care. For this reason, an effective public health care system is in place, boasting high medical care standards. The government committed to prevent a user cost at the point of delivery, meaning that quality health care and services are distributed equally throughout the country regardless of socioeconomic status or geographical location.
  6. Non-communicable diseases accounted for 86 percent of the mortality rate in 2012, the most prevalent being cardiovascular diseases. This contrasts with communicable diseases, like measles and hepatitis, which accounted for 8 percent of all mortality in that same year.
  7. Since gaining its independence in 1968, the island’s economy underwent a drastic transformation. The once low-income and agriculture-based economy is now diversified and growing, relying heavily on sugar, tourism and textiles, among other sectors. The GDP is now $13.33 billion. Agriculture accounts for 4 percent, industry 21.8 percent and services 74.1 percent. Government policies focused strongly on stimulating the economy, mainly by modernizing infrastructure and serving as the gateway for investment into the African continent.
  8. Currently, 8 percent of the 1.36 million Mauritian total population is living below the poverty line. Less than 1 percent of the population is living on $1 a day or less, meaning that extreme poverty is close to non-existent. In the hopes to fully eradicate poverty, the government has implemented the Mauritius Marshall Plan Against Poverty which works with poor communities to give greater access to education, health, and social protection measures.
  9. Many environmental issues threaten the island nation, including but not limited to water pollution, soil erosion and endangerment of wildlife. Main sources of water pollution include sewage and agricultural chemicals, while soil erosion is mainly due to deforestation. In the hopes to combat negative outcomes, the government created and published the Mauritius Environment Outlook Report. It recognizes the importance of environmental issues and acknowledges its integral link to the pursuit of sustainable development in the country.
  10. In 2017, the education sector received 5 percent of GDP. Approximately 93.2 percent of the population over the age of 15 can read and write. Gender disparities do exist, as 95.4 percent of males and 91 percent of females are considered literate. Unfortunately, this disparity persists in the job market as well: female unemployment is high and women are commonly overlooked for positions in upper-tier jobs.

The island continues to prioritize health, education and boosting its economy, all of which are essential for the improvement of living conditions in Mauritius. With positive momentum building since its independence in the 1960s, the country propelled itself into a stable and productive future.

Natalie Abdou
Photo: Pixabay

Credit Access in Mauritius
Mauritius, the island nation in the Indian Ocean, has undergone a financial transformation since the early 2000s, promoted by the government in order to catalyze the economy of the country. This has impacted credit access in Mauritius in a big way. Since 2000, the country has experienced losses connected to its truncated access to EU sugar and textile markets and is facing steeper competition from China and other East Asian exports.

Mauritius Economy Compared to Other Countries

This loss of preferential treatment and high budget deficit spells a slight struggle for Mauritius to retain its middle-income standing. Currently, the country ranks 65th in the world on the Human Development Index, and in 2014, it was the second highest country in Africa on the development list. Mauritius’ Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is at $9,770 and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reports that the country performs better than the average compared with other sub-Saharan African and middle-income countries as far as information ability, involvement of the trade community, advance rulings, appeal procedures and internal border agency cooperation.

By continuing to focus on the area of governance and impartiality, Mauritius can increase its trade volumes and lower trade costs. A strengthened customs system and transparent ethics policy could be the final stretch to reach the Prime Minister’s dream of a high-income country.

Government Initiatives

The Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth, has predicted a revamping of the economy and expresses hope for Mauritius moving into the future. Key reforms introduced in the 2018/2019 budget helped bring Mauritius its present position. The Minister also touched on the government’s dedication to raising the country to high-income level country, thereby funneling benefits to every citizen. Already this commitment can be seen in the growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and financial services, estimated to continue at 4.1 percent in 2019.

The government introduced changes to the legislative system in order to prevent money laundering and corrupt business. In his speech, the Prime Minister assured that the country is conducting a national risk assessment of terrorism financing.

Credit Access in Mauritius

A report from the Global Findex as of 2017 records 68.5 percent of Mauritians making or receiving digital payments, as well as 48.3 percent using credit or debit cards. The percentage of adults above the age of 15 who borrowed from a financial institution in Mauritius was at 22.9 percent, much higher than the sub-Saharan average of 8.4 percent, in comparison. Outstanding housing loans are increasing in availability as well, and almost 90 percent of adults were able to obtain access to financial institution accounts, banks or otherwise.

Enjoying past growth of upwards of 6 percent in the 1990s and continued economic performance, Mauritius is still dealing with the changes in the EU Sugar Protocol and falling sugar prices. As of 2006, the government incentivized seafood production in order to shift toward exporting fish instead of sugar, as well as a list of Integrated Resort Schemes offering luxury villas to foreigners. Diversifying the market and leveling the competition will surely launch Mauritius ahead in the economic playing field. The GDP by sector reveals the sugar sector operates at a modest 4.3 percent in 2007, led by government services at 15 percent, wholesale at 11, finance and real estate at 14.2 and many other diverse trade sectors.

Unfortunately, drastic adjustments meant one-third of employees for the sugar sector were redundant. The lost sugar income has still not been completely replaced, but the government is focused on diversification and increasing exports in the coming years.

In addition to experiencing an incredible 195 percent wealth growth from 2007 to 2017, credit access in Mauritius continues to increase due to strong ownership rights, a resilient economy, and ease of investment. Hopefully, the country’s example spearheads a movement throughout Asia for easier credit access and stable banks and economy.

– Hannah Peterson
Photo: Flickr