Common Diseases in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a country that has made huge strides in terms of disease reduction and increased sanitation. The nation achieved an all-time high of 98 percent of the population having access to clean water in 2010. This has enormously limited the number of diseases spread by poor water sanitation. With that said, what are the common diseases in St. Vincent and the Grenadines?

Of diseases common in developing countries, less than 3 percent of the population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has HIV/AIDS, dengue, tuberculosis or leptospirosis. This is due to impressive programs in the nation, such as the Expanded Program on Immunization, which maintained a rate of 95-98 percent immunization of children under five years old. Another program that helped to achieve these outstanding figures is the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission Program, which tested 100 percent of pregnant women for HIV/AIDS, and gave antiretrovirals, free of cost, to those who were positive.

There are very few diseases that can even be considered common in the small island nation. Of communicable diseases, the largest are acute respiratory infection, which had about 29,631 cases between 2006-2010, and the Zika virus, which had around seven cases per week in 2016. While cases of Zika have reduced greatly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, it still poses a threat to the population, as there is no known cure for the virus and it can be spread very easily between individuals. Because of this, it is still considered a hazard to the population and those who are traveling there.

Overall, this small island nation has incredibly low disease spread because of its commitment to protecting its citizens at whatever the cost. Because of this, there are very few common diseases in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The country sets an excellent example for other developing nations for disease prevention and reduction. Even as the poorest country in the eastern Caribbean, with a number of other issues to deal with as it develops, it has made incredible progress.

Liyanga De Silva

Photo: Flickr

Education in St. Vincent and the GrenadinesSt. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is an island country located in the Caribbean. It has only been a member of the Commonwealth of Nations since 1979. It is often marked as a developing country known for having a high unemployment rate. Yet, in recent years SVG has made significant improvements, particularly in education.

Credit is partially due to the Education Revolution that has been taking place in SVG since 2001, when the Unity Labour Party (ULP) gained control of the SVG government. The ULP credits itself with allocating more funding for educational programs than the New Democratic Party did when it held power. The ULP states that it will continue to make improvements throughout education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines including strengthening its STEM programs and developing secondary education.

The SVG Ministry of Education also reports that the number of primary school-aged children entering the first grade increased by 62.9 percent between 2013 and 2015. Both primary school-aged and secondary school-aged youth showed enrollment growth by 22.3 percent.

UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF and the World Bank founded the Education for All (EFA) movement in 1990 in order to improve education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This program claims many successes in SVG, including the addition and expansion of the community college. Additionally, there has been a steady increase in primary school teacher training.

However, there is still much room for progress. For example, there was a 36.4 percent decrease in the number of children who were primary school aged and those who graduated from the last year of primary school between the 2013-2014 and the 2014-2015 semesters. Furthermore, the country has yet to achieve 100 percent enrollment. Though the most substantial educational rift is the lack of training of SVG educators. As of 2015, 58 percent of SVG secondary school educators had no teacher training.

A possible solution to this issue could be mimicking Singapore’s teacher training structure. There, Singapore selects teachers from the top one-third of their secondary school graduating classes and cultivates them towards teaching via internships throughout their high school careers. Teacher salaries are competitive with those of other fields of study, and the training also offers competitive compensation. The teacher development and career path programs in Singapore are equally robust, recognizing potential and encouraging job promotion. Consequently, Singapore is a top performer in math, reading, and science when compared to the rest of the world. Being that much of Singapore’s success has taken place within only the last 50 years, its story brings hope to developing countries such as St. Vincent and the Grenadines, especially when taking into account their similar sizes and histories.

Education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has room for development, and its odds of success are favorable. It is widely agreed that educational success contributes greatly to the overall economic success of the country, improving the country’s employment rate and the standards of life for many citizens. Victories such as these appear to be on the horizon for education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the coming years.

Emma Tennyson