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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


Jamaica attracts people from all over the globe. Its beaches and comfortable atmosphere make it a dream destination for everyone from tourists to expatriates to some retirees. Due to how quickly currencies can appreciate and depreciate, calculating exact figures for the cost of living in Jamaica is difficult.

Living Expenses

As of the time of writing, one USD is worth $128.85 Jamaican Dollars (JMD). As an upper middle-income country, the island’s government has made many efforts to invest in and improve the living conditions of its people. One result of this investment is that buying certain foods (excluding milk) locally instead of importing them is the more economically sound option. However, everyday items such as toothpaste are more expensive on the island.

How much one should expect to pay for rent depends on location and size of the space. According to Expatistan, a site dedicated to helping expatriates by providing indexes of the costs of living around the world, renting a furnished 900-square-foot apartment can cost either $104,114 JMD ($814 USD) in an expensive neighborhood or $59,998 JMD ($469 USD) in a more average neighborhood. These prices drop considerably with a reduction in the size of the dwelling.

Living in a furnished 480-square-foot studio apartment goes for about $82,673 JMD ($646 USD) in an expensive neighborhood or $42,091 JMD ($329 USD) in a more average area. Additional utilities and amenities increase these totals, especially considering that Jamaica’s national minimum wage increased last March to $6,200 JMD per 40-hour work week and $8,854 JMD per week for Industrial Security Guards.

Education

Primary school education in Jamaica is mandatory and free, although other schooling materials do add to the cost of living in Jamaica. Each September, a parent can expect to pay anywhere between $300 and $400 USD per child at the elementary-school level for books, uniforms and mandatory auxiliary fees. These fees allow schools to continue operating and making improvements. A child can be turned away if these charges are left unpaid.

Retirement

If one is looking to retire in Jamaica, there are many factors to consider. These factors include housing, food, utilities, transportation and healthcare. Some services and appliances such as washers, dryers and dishwashers are uncommon due to import costs and there is not enough power to run them. In that same vein, a backup generator is a recommended investment.

Public transportation in Jamaica is not known to be the most punctual or comfortable. To get around this, having a car of one’s own is also recommended.

As for healthcare, the island’s clinics and hospitals provide their services for free, but they are also frequently described as unreliable. Kingston and Montego Bay are home to the best facilities on the island, so living there and taking out a proper health insurance policy covers quite a few bases.

Overall, Investopedia concluded that, given the cost of living in Jamaica, one could retire comfortably with a savings of $200,000 USD (approximately $25,668,730 JMD).

For those living on the island, the cost of life in Jamaica seems to be somewhat of a struggle to maintain, especially if many obligations need attention (such as children). However, that is not to say it is impossible. Perhaps if the minimum wage increases again like it did last year it will be easier for people to meet their needs.

Jada Haynes

Photo: Flickr


Jamaica is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea, consisting of the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and housing a population of 937,700 people. It is the third most populous Anglophone country in the Americas and the fourth most populous country in the Caribbean.

Jamaica is a small developing country that is seeking to promote human rights, safeguard the rule of law and protect refugees facing persecution. Here are 10 quick facts about Jamaican refugees:

10 Facts About Jamaican Refugees

  1. Jamaica has a comprehensive refugee policy that addresses many factors for refugees.
  2. An asylum seeker has to be classified as a political refugee in order to qualify for refugee status in Jamaica.
  3. In 2015, a report released by the United Nations (U.N.) Refugee Agency showed that Jamaicans made 836 applications for asylum.
  4. Jamaicans are seeking asylum in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.
  5. Jamaicans are the top asylum seekers in the Caribbean.
  6. There is no proper identity registration currently in place for Jamaican refugees.
  7. Lack of documentation of Jamaican refugees makes it hard for these refugees to have social and economic rights.
  8. Employers are not aware that Jamaican refugees do not need work permits to work in the country, which creates unnecessary unemployment.
  9. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has recommended that asylum-seekers and refugees should be provided with recognized identification cards.
  10. Currently, there are only 12 refugees from other countries in Jamaica.

Most Jamaican refugees are educated at the tertiary level in Jamaica, but have sought asylum for both economic and social opportunities. The loss of the country’s skill base of working professionals has had a tremendously negative impact on the productivity and education in the country, which are important factors that drive the Jamaican economy.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr

Adopt a Beach
The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) are mobilizing community-based organizations, clubs and companies to adopt beaches and conduct local beach cleanups in Jamaica.

The Adopt a Beach Program will provide tools for conducting efficient beach cleanups. By promoting clean beaches, it aims to build communities and secure jobs in the tourism sector during the upcoming 2017 fiscal year.

According to Anthony McKenzie, director of NEPA’s Environmental Management and Conservation Division, NEPA and UDC will distribute volunteers across a strip of coastline for the program’s pilot phase.

Jamaica relies on tourism for sustained economic growth and employment, so it is imperative that its beaches be maintained. Tourism employs approximately 200,000 of Jamaica’s 2.8 million people, about 7 percent of the population.

With support from the European Development Fund, new projects have been developed to improve disposal systems in two Jamaican tourist resort towns. These projects will emulate the Adopt a Beach Program, promoting proper waste management and environmentally safe practices.

The management of solid wastes in Jamaica presents serious concerns pertaining to the environment, public health, society and accountability. Many urban households lack the necessary sanitation tools to ensure proper waste disposal, putting groundwater, rivers and marine life at risk. There is also concern over the development of water-borne diseases.

Beaches are often polluted by private waste disposal contractors, but individuals also contribute to the damage. People are being advised to limit disposal of plastic waste in proximity to beaches. The “Trash Free Waters” initiative sponsored by NEPA aims to reduce the use of plastic blags, some of the biggest contributors to waste.

NEPA public relations officer Deleen Powell advised Jamaicans to find alternatives to using plastic bags. According to Powell, several supermarkets and pharmacies are promoting the use of reusable bags.

The Adopt a Beach Program will help reduce marine litter across Jamaica’s coastline and secure tourist investment and job production.

Shanique Wright

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Jamaica

Hunger in Jamaica has improved tremendously among primary and early childhood students with the various programs and strategies implemented by The Program of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) and the School Feeding Program (SFP).

The Program of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) enabled by the Government of Jamaica (GOF) continues to play an integral role in providing free lunches for primary school students with the aim of improving the nutrition of vulnerable children and eradicating hunger in Jamaica with Early Childhood students being the target group.

The Hon. Rev Ronald Thwaites in his presentation of the 2015-2016 sectoral debate revealed the aim of the Ministry of Education to expand the breakfast programs in schools initiated to provide free breakfast for 138,000 students inclusive of PATH beneficiaries.

The Ministry assigned J$2.2 billion to this program. The SFP in partnership with the Nutrition Products Limited (NPL) breakfast solutions ensures that all meals are made from local agricultural products.

Board Chairman of Nutrition Products Limited James E.D. Rawle gave a synopsis of the various products offered in the NPL Annual Report, “Segments of the Early Childhood Cohort, inclusive of hot solution (porridge), sandwiches, muffins, breads, cakes and an improved juice drink, made utilizing locally produced fruit puree”.

The NPL has provided breakfast solutions to 12,000 designated children located in Kingston & St Andrew, St Thomas, St Catherine and Clarendon each day. This initiative has helped to reduce hunger in Jamaica among students in Primary level institutions.

The SFP provides additional Nutribun snacks for these students in line with the strategy Ministry of Education to spend approximately 20 percent of the school feeding budget of J$4.6 billion on locally grown products. The Ministry intends to achieve 50 percent in three years.

The Hon. Rev Ronald Thwaites revealed that 40 percent of children lack proper nutrition and another 30 percent experience hunger on a daily basis.

“Providing nutrition in schools is adding value to the lives of our young children and the brightening of their prospects,” said Thwaites. This step towards improving the nutrition of Early Childhood students via proper victuals is a resourceful means by the GOF to improve hunger In Jamaica.

Shanique Wright

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Jamaica Poverty rate
Jamaica has struggled with poverty, unemployment and crime for the past half century, but the nation has recently seen ambitious government economic policies bear fruit. Discussed below are the leading facts about poverty in Jamaica and their implications.

8 Facts about Poverty in Jamaica

  1. Jamaica is not in extreme poverty and is regarded as a middle income country. For comparison, Jamaica has about 1/20th the GDP per capita of the United States, but a four-times-higher GDP per capita than the nearby country Haiti.
  2. Since the 1970s and 80s, Jamaica has experienced serious problems with poverty and unemployment. Through the 90s, unemployment remained around 15 percent, with poverty above 25 percent. The unemployment rate is currently 14 percent and poverty is 16 percent.
  3. A serious hindrance to Jamaica’s development has been slow rates of economic growth. In the past 30 years, Jamaica has had an average annual GDP growth rate of less than one percent. The slow growth rate is a major cause of persistent poverty in Jamaica.
  4. Relationships between Jamaican officials and crime groups cause widespread corruption, which results in many of Jamaica’s problems. The corruption not only hurts law abiding Jamaican citizens, but makes foreign investors far more hesitant to get involved in Jamaican industry.
  5. Public education in Jamaica is not entirely free. There is a registration fee and other school expenses that are not covered by the government. As a result, many of the nation’s most poor children are not able to attend school.
  6. Jamaica jumped 27 places in the 2015 Doing Business ranking, as the Jamaican government has improved its credit rating and decreased the national debt. It is hoped that the improved ranking will increase investment and alleviate poverty in Jamaica.
  7. The World Bank has a positive outlook for Jamaica’s economy, with forecasts of the country’s GDP growth rate climbing to over two percent in 2017.
  8. The Jamaican Government is currently working with the UNDP and the European Union to alleviate poverty on both a macro and micro level. Poverty alleviation and achievement of Millennium Development Goals remains a top priority for the Jamaican government.

Despite Jamaica’s history of poverty and some ongoing problems, economic forecasts for the country remain optimistic. It is possible that Jamaica will experience an economic resurgence and alleviate problems of unemployment and poverty in coming years.

John English

Photo: Pixabay

marijuana_tours_boost_jamacian_economy
As of January 2014, Jamaica had an unemployment rate of 14.9%, which was a decrease from the 15.4% in December 2013.

Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley’s celebrity in the U.S. and openness about his use of marijuana has formed a reputation for Jamaica as being an island where marijuana use and sales are legal. Jamaica is in actuality a very conservative country that prohibits the use and distribution of marijuana.

The growth of marijuana crops, in fact, have steadily declined because of the war on drugs by the U.S. and other competitors, but this has not hindered American travelers from visiting Jamaica in hopes of experiencing the effects of marijuana that Bob Marley openly supported.

Regardless of the decline, Jamaica still has a vast supply of marijuana tourists from the U.S. and all over the world. Jamaica is still the lead smuggler of marijuana into the U.S., which brings a great deal of people into the country to buy weed and explore the cannabis culture in Jamaica.

Many growers are quickly learning that making money off of tourists is quite easy when it includes marijuana. Nine Mile, famous for being the hometown of Bob Marley, offers many different marijuana tours, each of which take relatively large groups of Americans, Germans and Russians through small marijuana farms.

These tours are also common in Negril, Jamaica, and are slowly adapting to become common in places such as Colorado and Washington state, where marijuana has become legalized.

With these tours, average-to-minimum waged locals are able to make a decent chunk of money by letting tourists explore their farms and sample their inventory, often leading many of the tourists to purchase their product.

One Jamaican marijuana farmer dubbed “Breezy” sells his bags of marijuana through the wall-hole of a museum, where marijuana tourists line up and smoke weed, usually just for the sheer novelty that Bob Marley smoked weed on the same island.

One tourist traveling from Minnesota stated, “I can get stronger stuff at home, but there’s something really special about smoking marijuana in Jamaica. I mean, this is the marijuana that inspired Bob Marley.”

The large amount of marijuana tourism that is illegally occurring in Jamaica begs the question of why it hasn’t been legalized.

Marijuana could prove to be a great benefit and a pillar for health tourists. One Jamaican scientist named Henry Lowe, who was a partner in developing a marijuana-based glaucoma treatment, believes that legalizing marijuana could bring in even more tourism than there already is.

By legalizing marijuana, attention and money is estimated to be pulled from gangs and arresting large criminal parties and be refocused on other important matters, such as creating official jobs for those living below the poverty line and helping lower class growers gain a larger following. Overall, the island would benefit and reap massive economic gain by legalizing marijuana and freeing up money.

– Becka Felcon

Sources: Trading Economics, The Guardian, Telegraph
Photo: High Times Caribbean