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women in the Olympics

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics was highly anticipated for many reasons. One of the most historic reasons is that it was the most “gender-balanced” Olympics in the history of the global competition. With all 206 National Olympic Committees sending “at least one female and one male” athlete from their country, women made up just under half of all competing athletes at the Tokyo Olympics. This Olympics produced many role models for children across the world, but young girls are seeing firsthand the empowerment of women in sports.

Women from across the world broke barriers and became the face of change for women in sports forever. These Olympians left a lasting legacy in their respective sports and represented progress toward gender equality for their home countries. Hundreds of women broke barriers at the 2020 Olympics, but Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Hend Zaza and Yulimar Rojas were three women whose stories are just as notable as the history they are making.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

Earning the nickname “second-fastest woman in history” is no small feat, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has left her mark on the world by doing more than just running. Growing up in one of the poorest areas of Kingston, Jamaica, she first discovered the sport by running to primary school every day while barefoot. Fraser-Pryce dedicates her life to more than her sport and has a passion for working with underprivileged kids. Even with a silver medal in the women’s 100m and a gold medal in the women’s 4x100m relay at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Fraser-Pryce’s legacy extends beyond the Olympic finish line.

Since 2010, she has served as a UNICEF National Goodwill Ambassador for Jamaica. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she coordinated a fundraiser through her resource center, The Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce Resource Centre in Waterhouse. As a result, the Centre supplied computers to allow education to continue during the pandemic for local children. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is a role model to more than just girls hoping to run as fast as her one day. She also proves to underprivileged kids with upbringings similar to hers that anything is possible when it comes to achieving your dreams.

Hend Zaza

Hend Zaza was the youngest person competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and was also the youngest since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. At 12 years old, the Syrian native left a mark on the world as a table tennis prodigy with invitations to train in China by the Chinese Olympic Committee. Zaza did not have a conventional upbringing, being born just two years before the civil war began in Syria.

Because of the conflict in Syria, it was difficult for Zaza to train or even travel between cities. Another barrier for Zaza was the lack of funding for competitions and equipment, like paddles and balls. This left her competition experience limited before her qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Her training for the Olympics occurred primarily at the Al Faiha Club in Damascus. With little or no air conditioning and frequent power outages, Zaza defeated many odds to make strides at the Olympics. While Zaza did not receive an Olympic medal this time around, her mark on the sport of table tennis and the story of her determination and passion will last for many years.

Yulimar Rojas

Awarded Female Athlete of the Year by World Athletics, Yulimar Rojas makes history as the first Venezuelan woman to win this honor. Rojas won the gold medal while breaking the world record for the women’s triple jump at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Born in a rural and poorer region of Venezuela’s capital Caracas, Rojas grew up in a house known as a “ranchito.” Aside from her impoverished upbringing, Yulimar Rojas was originally not allowed to compete and travel to international competitions due to her father’s disapproval. The societal standard of women competing in sports is a hurdle athletes like Rojas fight to overcome. Venezuela has a long way to go when it comes to gender equality, but Rojas continues to push for her change through her life and impressive athletic career.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics brought the world together during an unprecedented time. The women on this global stage were not just sources of empowerment to girls who look up to them. They were also representatives of resilience, passion and drive for the world. Gender equality and women’s representation in the 2020 Olympics is just another reason these historic few weeks were something to remember for generations to come.

Annaclaire Acosta
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Health Barriers Faced by the Elderly in JamaicaIn line with the global aging population trend, Jamaica has seen a rapid increase in its elderly population. This increase is now calling for continued action to address the health barriers faced by the elderly in Jamaica.

An Aging Population

In 1995, Jamaica reported having 110,430 males and 130,020 females in the 60 years and older group. This represented 9.42% of the total population in the country. By 2001, Jamaica’s elderly population consisted of 122,844 males and 141,869 females. A decade later in 2011, the census reported that the number of individuals who were 60 years or older had risen to 145,204 males and 159,979 females. These numbers indicated a 15.2% increase in the total number of people who were 60 years or older from 2001 to 2011.

Additionally, by 2011, those in this age group accounted for a greater share of the dependency ratio, a ratio measuring the number of young (0-15 years) and old (60 years or older) people in a population compared with that of the working population.

The World Health Organization has stated that this older population is mostly affected by chronic non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, arthritis, hypertension and cancers. In 2018, Jamaica reported that 72% of elderly people had at least one chronic illness, with hypertension and diabetes being the most common. This contributes to the high percentage of people taking medication as well. Furthermore, persons over 60 years of age were much more likely to experience protracted illnesses in comparison to the rest of the population.

Healthcare Barriers

With recent progress in Jamaica’s life expectancy, the elderly are living longer. According to the World Health Organization, in 2018, the life expectancy for Jamaicans was 76.2 years. It is expected that these individuals will require more long-term care and rehabilitation services as they become increasingly vulnerable to diseases and lose physical or mental capacities.

However, there is limited access to local long-term care services in Jamaica and the number of caregivers has decreased throughout the country. Traditionally, younger Jamaicans would stay home and help care for older family members, but with the recent fall in family size resulting from a drastic drop in the fertility rate, the number of family members available to care for these individuals has significantly declined. The issue is worsened by the increasing number of young Jamaicans migrating abroad, typically to the United States, and leaving their older family members behind who frequently encounter difficulties in accessing rehabilitation services independently.

Financial Barriers to Healthcare

Many older Jamaicans also face financial barriers in accessing much needed medical treatment and services. While Jamaica has established a wide and extensive network of public primary care centers and hospitals offering free or low-cost services, the cost of medications and other health care resources has risen as most of these products are imported and the nation’s currency has undergone severe devaluation.

These financial burdens are especially felt by the country’s older population who rely on pensions to cover their living and health expenses. The Old Age Pension provided to qualifying retired Jamaicans is usually insufficient to cover the additional health costs associated with old age as the pensions do not adjust to meet the yearly changes in the cost of living.

Lack of Access to Healthcare in Rural Areas

Additionally, older Jamaicans living in rural areas experience significantly higher barriers to health as there is a lack of overall access to medical care, health and treatment services and transportation. A study conducted in 2012 found that people living in rural areas tend to have more “uncontrolled and undiagnosed disease,” evidenced by the fact that 27.5% of those surveyed who were diagnosed with high blood pressure had not previously received a diagnosis from a doctor. Furthermore, among those who had received a prior diagnosis, 72.2% had signs of the disease as being poorly controlled.

Also, health barriers are intensified by the fact that only 30% of the elderly population living in rural areas are pension recipients as compared to 44.4% in the Kingston Metropolitan Area. The elderly in rural areas also report having greater issues with food availability and adequacy as 53% stated not having easy access to the food they need.

Researchers Eldemire-Shearer, K Mitchell-Fearon and DL Holder-Nevins stated in 2014 that these difficulties in accessing treatment and food emphasize the health challenges that older Jamaicans face as the current health system is primarily engaged in reducing chronic disease and maintaining functional ability. They say a different approach is needed to better meet the new demands of older Jamaicans who suffer from prolonged mental or physical conditions.

Addressing Barriers

In 2018, the Jamaican government revised the National Policy for Senior Citizens, created in 1997, to introduce new measures for supporting and improving the quality of life for the elderly. The plan outlines a multi-stakeholder approach designed to address social, economic and health barriers faced by this fast-growing population.

The document promotes universal access to quality health care for all senior citizens and acknowledges the varying medical needs within this age group. It also calls for a greater expansion of health insurance coverage since only 23% of elderly people are insured.

Furthermore, the plan outlines steps for improving income security for all senior citizens and tasks the government with providing food assistance when necessary. It also provides detailed initiatives for expanding access to health resources, including mental health services, home and respite care, physiotherapy and other rehabilitation services. All these health resources for the elderly are to be carried out under the supervision of the National Council for Senior Citizens, which monitors and evaluates the progress of senior citizen programs at both the national and regional levels.

While the existing health care system will require the full implementation of all these measures in the coming years to combat the health barriers faced by the elderly in Jamaica, this policy plan offers a comprehensive guide to start addressing some of these challenges.

– Emely Recinos
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in JamaicaA whole 2.8 million people live in poverty in Jamaica. The strain of poverty is heavy on all people, however, for children, it is more severe. Jamaica is yet to tackle the many factors impacting child poverty.

Facts About Child Poverty in Jamaica

  1. At least 25% of Jamaican children live under the poverty line. With the struggling economic state in Jamaica, it is difficult for the government to prioritize increasing investment in children. Instead, a large amount of the country’s national budget is dedicated to debt repayment. Because poverty is most widespread in rural Jamaica, hidden from the eyes of tourists, issues impacting children are rarely addressed.
  1. Jamaica does not have equal access to education. Minors living in rural areas may not have the option to attend school at all. While primary school is free, secondary and higher education is not, meaning that schooling beyond the primary level is often too expensive for underprivileged families. Beyond accessibility, Jamaican schools often lack resources for proper learning which means children are not able to thrive in an educational setting.
  1. Jamaica has a high incidence of HIV/AIDS affliction. This contributes to an overall high child mortality rate. In numbers, 10% of Jamaicans who have HIV/AIDS are under the age of 18, often as a result of mother-to-child transmission. In addition, AIDS deaths in adults result in many children becoming orphaned.
  1. High unemployment rates lead to unstable socio-economic conditions. Without a way to earn a stable income, many in Jamaica turn to gang activity and crime to survive. Exposure to extreme violence is common for Jamaican children, and because of high poverty levels, many young boys often join gangs themselves. In addition, many unemployed residents are forced to live without access to running water and proper sanitation which means children and families live in unacceptable conditions.
  1. Child labor is widespread and often essential for a family’s survival. With high poverty rates across Jamaica’s rural communities, some families must send their children to work, purely out of desperation. In cities, children are often seen selling merchandise, washing car windshields and begging for money. For many, living the life of a child is an unaffordable luxury.

The Jamaican Childcare and Protection Act

Jamaica still has some work to do in terms of protecting its children from the harsh realities of poverty. However, the country has progressed in this regard, by implementing crucial legislation for the protection of children. The Jamaican Childcare and Protection Act was passed in 2004 and promotes the safety and best interests of children in the country. The Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) and the Children’s Register was established under this Act. The OCA was established with the purpose of protecting and enforcing the rights of children and the Children’s Register consists of the information reported regarding suspected ill-treatment of a child. Child labor is also specifically addressed in the Act.

While child poverty in Jamaica is still a significant concern, the country has made progress and will continue to do so in the future as key issues affecting the country’s most vulnerable populations are addressed.

– Natasha Cornelissen
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS in JamaicaAs of 2018, 32,000 people were living with a positive HIV diagnosis in Jamaica, with 44% of this population receiving treatment. This has been attributed to the stigmatization of HIV/AIDS, which can make those who live with it unwilling to pursue help. In response, Jamaican activists have campaigned and advocated for the destigmatization of HIV/AIDS because they believe it is the first step to completely eradicating the disease in Jamaica.

USAID’s Health Policy Project

International initiatives, such as the Health Policy Project, have been an important resource for activists because it focuses on training and educating. This project is a part of USAID’s mission to counter HIV/AIDS around the world and USAID is its chief source of funding. Within the Health Policy Project, HIV positive individuals have been invited to larger conferences where they are able to learn more about how to counter stigmatization and how to mobilize others. Because these individuals are Jamaican and their stories are personal, their message tends to be more positively received by audiences. This has allowed for a greater discussion of HIV/AIDS because it gives faces to those who are being discriminated against.

Governmental Initiatives for Anti-Discrimination

On a legislative level, the Jamaican Government has pushed multiple initiatives and studies to better the living conditions and access to care for those living with HIV. For example, healthcare discrimination is countered through the Client Complaint Mechanism and the Jamaica Anti-Discrimination System by educating the population, monitoring minority communities and training healthcare workers. In addition to that, these organizations collect reports of discrimination from around the country and help to investigate and correct them. These bodies are also working to provide free HIV treatment across the country and hope to accomplish this in the coming years.

Jamaica AIDS Support

Jamaica AIDS Support is the largest non-governmental organization working to counter and destigmatize HIV/AIDS in the country. Besides the promotion of education and treatment, the organization also provides access to mental health treatment for those who are HIV positive. This has allowed for a larger discourse about mental health and how it relates to this disease as well as a greater social acknowledgment of how stigmatization hurts others. In 2016, Jamaica AIDS Support began the Greater Treasure Beach Area pilot project, which aims to educate young people on HIV/AIDS so that in the coming generations there will be more tolerance and acceptance of those living with HIV.

Eve for Life

Local organizations, such as Eve for Life, have also been instrumental in the fight against HIV/AIDS discrimination by approaching the issue through empowerment. Eve for Life specifically works to empower women living with HIV through multiple education initiatives as well as smaller groups meant to support these women. One such group, Mentor Moms, works to help young mothers living with HIV to secure treatment and it provides smaller meeting groups where these similar women can find community. So far, it seems these initiatives have been overwhelmingly successful as more female activists have become involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS, which has led to greater social consciousness about the disease.

Conquering Stigma and Countering HIV/AIDS

Destigmatization initiatives in Jamaica are the key to countering HIV/AIDS and the country is off to a promising start. By utilizing personal narrative and education, activists hope to secure a world that is more welcoming for their children than it was for them. In the words of UNAIDS country director, Manoela Manova, “The more we do to ensure that people feel safe and respected, the closer the country will come to ending AIDS.”

– Mary Buffaloe
Photo: Flickr

Startup Hub Caribbean
Facebook has partnered with Parallel18, an accelerator for startup companies that is part of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, to provide support for 10 startups in the Caribbean. The program is called Facebook’s Startup Hub Caribbean and it is a 12-week program that started in May 2019. This program can tremendously benefit these technology startup companies and the communities that they work in.

The 10 companies selected are from Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic and the partnership chose all of them because they provide a product or service that focuses on goals that better their communities. These include gender equality and employment opportunities. These companies will be able to grow and expand into other markets under the support of Facebook and Parallel 18 through their free services and mentorships.

Possible Benefits

The unemployment rates in Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic are currently 7.7 percent, 8 percent and 5 percent. Although these numbers do not appear high, it comes to a total of about 785,000 people that are unemployed. Although providing support to these 10 companies will not completely fix the unemployment rate in these countries, they should be able to grow and provide jobs to their communities with enough support from Facebook and Parallel18.

Agrobeads

Other than creating jobs for various communities, these start-up companies are providing real change and solutions. From Puerto Rico, Agrobeads is one of the 10 companies that Facebook has chosen to help. It provides capsules with water and nutrients to farmers in areas that are susceptible to droughts. According to Agrobeads, the capsules allow for the watering of crops and plants every two weeks instead of daily. Facebook’s support of Agrobeads will allow communities in the Caribbean to have greater access to locally grown foods and a more stable income for farmers.

Edupass

A company focused on providing assistance to those who are underprivileged, Edupass originally formed in 2014. It provides information and assistance to those in the Dominican Republic going through the admission process to university or college. Education is the key to growing a strong workforce and with the support from Facebook’s Startup Hub Caribbean program, Edupass will be able to provide assistance through its admissions experts. These experts will be able to guide students through the application process, help transition students into life at college and provide students with tutoring and the opportunities for internships.

Hacker Hostel

From Jamaica, Hacker Hostel is a company started by Akua Walters that trains and markets Caribbean developers for remote jobs in North American countries. Walters created the company because he saw that talented JavaScript developers were leaving the Caribbean to pursue jobs in developed countries. This was a major problem because the people who were leaving to obtain jobs in developed countries could potentially provide solutions to help with problems in developing nations. Now with the support of Facebook and Parallel18, Hacker Hostel can help better train and prepare software developers to work for North American companies remotely.

Looking Forward

With the creation of Facebook’s Startup Hub Caribbean program, Facebook and Parallel18 are able to provide assistance to young companies that have created solutions for communities around the Caribbean. Although these companies focus and work to benefit their own communities, they could potentially expand to areas outside the Caribbean with the tools, workshops and mentorships from Facebook.

Ian Scott
Photo: Flickr

Deep within this tropical paradise lies a history of discrimination based on sex. From job titles and pay to violence, women on the island of Jamaica have often been seen as second place, however, that is slowly changing. The United Nations encourages full integration of women in the development process, ensuring their “fundamental freedoms on the basis of equality with men”. Climbing the ranks, women in Jamaica are leaving their mark and breaking down barriers. Holding 28 percent of chairs in senate, women’s empowerment in Jamaica is making headway. But it is not an easy road. Although there is a high number of women running for offices, the amount elected is significantly less.

While encouragement for women’s participation in politics is present, many view the opportunity with angst. Verbal abuse, discrimination by male colleagues, and lack of support from their counterparts are some experiences many women have faced. According to the fifth periodic report submitted to the United Nations the word “sex” is absent from the Jamaican Constitution, preventing a person from utilizing their constitutional rights where such discrimination is present. Currently, parts of legislation are being reviewed which include the Domestic Violence Act and the Sexual Offenses Act to bring attention to these areas.

Appointed in December 2009, and re-appointed in January 2012 Kamina Johnson Smith is the Senator and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. As a believer in a better Jamaica, Smith states that the government is committed to the achievement of gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment in Jamaica.

The Women’s Empowerment Principals (WEPs) is a list created by the United Nations stating several ways to encourage women to be apart of the workforce in an influential and enriching manner. At a recent consultation representatives of Jamaican companies who had signed onto the WEPs partnership were Island Grill, Sandals, RUBiS, Facey and Facey Law, JMMB and Women Entrepreneur Network (WEN Caribbean)/Zinergy International.

With the government’s backing, women’s empowerment in Jamaica is spreading throughout the island. In 2008, Jamaica reported 59 percent of its managers being female, one of the highest rank in the world. Increasing the growth of women workers and merging into other lanes of women’s empowerment will occur as long as the political transformation continues.

– Tara Jackson

Photo: Flickr

Development ProjectsThe mission statement of the World Bank is to, “end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity.” The World Bank has funded over 12,000 development projects across the globe since 1947, and in Jamaica, these projects have provided much-needed assistance to those who need it most. Here is a list of five development projects in progress in Jamaica that are aimed toward improving the lives of the impoverished.

  1. Jamaica Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project
    Launched in 2016, this project aims to increase Jamaica’s ability to handle natural disasters or dramatic climate events via a four-part plan. The first step is to increase the island’s technological infrastructure to allow for better tracking and predicting of weather events. The next component of this project is the improvement of physical infrastructure on the island to better resist and withstand natural disasters. The third step is to improve emergency services, so that in the event of a disaster, people can more rapidly be assisted. The fourth and final component, which ties all of the parts of this project together, is administrative oversight by the World Bank to ensure accountability.  This project comes at an investment cost of $30 million from the World Bank, a worthy donation that will ensure Jamaica can withstand natural disasters to come.
  2. Early Child Development Project
    The Early Child Development Project (ECD) sets out a three-tier strategy to ensure a better future for at-risk youth. The first goal of this project is to increase the regularity of developmental monitoring, health risk screenings and emergency intervention procedures for children. The second goal is to improve early childhood education facilities through both physical renovation and program development. Lastly, the ECD aims to strengthen and improve training for early childhood education groups, i.e. the adults responsible for providing care for children.  The World Bank began this project in 2014, and has since pledged $14 million toward the cause.
  3. Second Competitiveness and Fiscal Management Program
    Commencing in June of 2017, this project is the World Bank’s most recent development project in Jamaica, with $70 million in funding. The goal is to strengthen Jamaica’s economy and financial sector through a two-part strategy. First, the World Bank aims to support legislative reforms which will enhance the development of the Jamaican economy. Secondly, this plan aims to increase the availability of fiscal management for both businesses and private citizens. If all goes to plan, this project will help Jamaica become a developed country by the year 2030.
  4. Youth Employment in Digital and Animation Industries
    This project began in 2014 with the help of a $20 million loan from the World Bank, and aims to increase employment opportunities for Jamaican youth, specifically in the rapidly expanding digital and animation industries. The World Bank’s plan for this project puts funding into each step along the journey to working in these fields, from early childhood skills training, to investing in the digital animation industries themselves to stimulate growth and job availability. This project also provides funding toward individuals carrying out research, development and innovation in these fields.
  5. Jamaica Integrated Community Development Project
    The World Bank has pledged to provide $42 million from 2014 to 2020 in an effort to improve safety and infrastructure in communities across Jamaica. This project aims to improve roads, drainage, electrical, sewage and water systems and community organizations.

With the assistance of the World Bank, these development projects will encourage Jamaica’s social and economic growth as a nation. With hope and continued aid, Jamaica may be pulled out of poverty and into a bright future.

– Tyler Troped
Photo: Flickr

Why is Jamaica Poor

Considered an upper middle-income country as stated by the World Bank, Jamaica has much to improve upon within its economy to decrease poverty rates in the country. Jamaica is considered to be one of the slowest and most unstable economies in the world, weakened by high debt rates. As for today, Jamaica’s poverty rate has improved, with a 1.7 percent growth of GDP during 2016 and an expected 2 percent for 2017. Many reforms have been instituted to reduce the country’s debt. However, Jamaica still has a lot to improve on in order to eliminate poverty. So, what are the answers to the question why is Jamaica poor? High crime, unemployment and inflation are a few of the answers to this question.

Most criminal activity in Jamaica is related to gang activity and use of illegal drugs. Police data confirms the occurrence of many murders in 2017, with an increase of 19 percent and a total of 639 people killed from January 2017 to June 2017. This represents an average of four murders per day. This places Jamaica’s homicide rate among the top five highest national homicide rates in the world.

Jamaica also experiences increasingly high unemployment rates within the population. The Statistics Institute of Jamaica reveals a slight decline in unemployment, with a rate of 12.9 per cent as of October 2016 and 12.2 as of April 2017. This clearly shows there was only a slight improvement between 2016 and 2017, but the rates are still high as of today.

Another reason Jamaica is poor is its high inflation rate – averaging 9.54 percent between 2002 and 2017. As of July 2017, Jamaica’s inflation rate had declined to 4.4 percent. Jamaica has been known to spend half of its income on imported good for basic necessities. The country relies mostly on goods such as food, gasoline and clothing. Its high reliance on imported goods creates an increasing deficit, endangering the state of its economy and keeping people below the poverty line.

After asking why Jamaica is poor it is also important to ask what the solutions are to end poverty in Jamaica. By reducing Jamaica’s crime rates and having more employment opportunities, Jamaica would increase its chances to improve its economy and become richer in more ways than one. Seeing Jamaica’s slight improvements in recent years, it offers some hope for eventually ending poverty in the future.

Sarah Soutoul

Photo: Flickr


Jamaica is known to be an upper-middle-income country. Yet, it is one of the slowest-developing economies in the world. Its poverty rate has improved, decreasing from 19.9% in 2012 to 18.7% today. Although there is a significant improvement, there are still present causes that answer the question, “why is Jamaica poor?” Crime, unemployment rates, reliability on imported goods and other social conflicts contribute to poverty in Jamaica.

Jamaica constantly faces crime and violence. It has an above-average crime rate as well as high poverty levels. People commit crimes usually when they are in need. Because of poor conditions, there is a need to steal food out of hunger or other circumstances. These criminal acts are a direct effect of Jamaica’s impoverished state.

Unemployment is a great challenge many Jamaican families go through. The unemployment rate is around 12.9% as of the end of last year. This creates difficulty for children trying to go to school. With no education, there is no social growth within the community. This is another answer to the question “why is Jamaica poor?”

Jamaica’s education system requires most schools to have fees. This creates a barrier for many households because they cannot afford these fees. Limiting children’s education limits their opportunities to reduce poverty in the country, and the cycle continues.

With an 8.29% inflation rate and high reliance on imported goods for daily necessities, most of Jamaica is scraping its way through survival. And so, why is Jamaica poor? Jamaica’s public debt, unemployment and crime rates have weakened the economy over the years. While Jamaica has many in poverty now, it does not mean it is its fate. With organizations working to reduce poverty around the world and Jamaica’s significant improvement, the country has a developing future.

Brandi Gomez

Photo: Flickr


Over the years, diseases in Jamaica have been exposed as well as evolved. These diseases have been tracked and analyzed and placed in a data chart to keep the residents and travelers informed. A common informer is the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

The information it provides is updated every year, and as of this year, the CDC has provided information on recent common diseases in Jamaica. The list it has provided includes hepatitis A and B, typhoid, yellow fever and the most recent cases of the Zika virus.

Hepatitis A may be caught throughout the country, through contaminated water and food. Hepatitis B through contaminated needles or blood product. While hepatitis A may be cleared in a week or so, hepatitis B is highly infectious.
Typhoid can also be caused by contaminated water and food in Jamaica. The disease is transmitted orally, when someone with poor body hygiene may infect the food and water being served.

Yellow fever is a virus spread when bitten by an Aedes mosquito but cannot be spread from person to person. Symptoms may disappear after a week, but there may be cases in which symptoms go into the toxic third phase.

The Zika virus is a hazard in Jamaica and is the first thing presented in the health information section of the CDC website. The Zika virus is a disease in Jamaica that is also spread by mosquitoes. When people are bitten by these mosquitoes, they are infected and other people may be infected by human contact.

The risk is most dangerous in pregnant women and women who are trying to get pregnant. The infection in these women may cause birth defects. The Centers for Disease Control strongly recommends pregnant women not to travel, being extra cautious if they do, and using condoms during intercourse.

These common diseases in Jamaica are being analyzed as cases come in. The information brought forth will make travelers and residents more safe and aware.

Brandi Gomez

Photo: Flickr