Healthcare in Montserrat
Montserrat is a territory of the United Kingdom residing in the eastern Caribbean. According to the United Nations, about 5,375 people live in Montserrat. Poverty plagues the territory. Thus, the need for adequate healthcare in Montserrat is more evident than ever.

Poverty in Montserrat

According to the Country Poverty Assessment, about 36% of Montserrat’s population falls below the poverty line. Additionally, a third of those living in poverty are under 15 years of age. Henceforth, children in Montserrat fall victim to the harshest reality of poverty. Moreover, about 10% of Montserrat citizens living in poverty are above 30 years of age. Montserrat’s National Sustainable Development Plan of 2008-2020 is the key to advancing the development within the territory. This development has enriched the economy and improved living conditions for citizens.

The Necessity of Universal Healthcare

In October 2020, the need to implement universal healthcare was evident. John Allen spoke at a Financial Informational Month Symposium. He implored that universal healthcare is key to maintaining every citizen’s health. Poverty consumes the majority of the population. Thus, the high price tag on healthcare services limits people’s ability to seek help.

Illnesses accounted for the top three leading causes of death for children ages 5 and younger in 2010. There were 601 cases of acute respiratory infections, 132 cases of influenza and 94 cases of gastroenteritis. Furthermore, a large portion of children is at risk of being underweight, overweight and obese. About 28.4% of adolescents suffered from anemia as well. In addition, about 12.5% of all childbirths were from adolescent pregnancies from 2006 to 2010. Adults are hospitalized primarily due to obstetrics delivery, urinary tract infections, influenza, diabetes, gastroenteritis and hypertension. The elderly population particularly suffers from hypertension and diabetes. Although communicable diseases have received effective treatment, diseases such as HIV/AIDS are still prevalent. On the other hand, chronic diseases such as malignant neoplasms, diabetes and hypertension continue to be a major concern for Montserratians.

Sustainable Development Plan 2008-2020

About 9.4% of Montserrat’s general revenue goes into the Ministry of Health and Social Services. The Sustainable Development Plan also contributes to accelerating Montserrat’s economic development. This plan aims to implement short-term goals every five years. The framework of these policies includes at least one of the following: economic management, human development, environmental management and disaster mitigation, governance and population.

Today, Montserrat is focusing on the Medium Term Economic Policy for 2017-2021. The Medium Term Economic Policy’s mission statement is to foster sustainable growth with benefits for all. The goal of this policy is to reduce Montserrat’s dependence on the United Kingdom by building upon its local economy. Utilizing these economic growth strategies helps the economy recover from disasters such as volcanic eruptions.

While Montserrat’s current primary healthcare system is effective, individuals who seek secondary care struggle to locate such services. Unfortunately, only one hospital in Montserrat offers secondary and tertiary healthcare services. The Ministry of Health and Social Services set a goal to lower the cost of secondary and tertiary healthcare services by 2020. Additionally, full-time university students, senior citizens, children under 16 years of age, multifarious public servants and prisoners receive protection the 2002 Public Health Act. Thus, they are exempt from paying healthcare bills. Also, the Civil Service Association Health Insurance plan covers families of public servants.

Developing New Hospitals

In February 2020, the government signed a contract joining Article 25, an international architectural organization that is based in the United Kingdom. Montserrat has set architectural advancements in motion to improve hospitals. Furthermore, the government stated that Montserrat has become globally competitive in the market of medical technology and supplies. The Ministry of Health and Social Services oversees new designs for hospitals based on health facility architecture portfolios located within Article 25.

The New National Hospital Project of Montserrat began construction in late 2020. New healthcare initiatives are bringing the hope of better health and economic growth to those living in poverty. As a result of government action and organizations’ outreach, healthcare in Montserrat is improving steadily.

– Lauren Tabor
Photo: Flickr