Health and Welfare

Caribbean Islands Table of Contents

In the 1980s, health care in the Cayman Islands compared favorably with the situation found elsewhere in the Commonwealth Caribbean. Mirroring a pattern seen in developed societies, the major causes of death were noncommunicable diseases, especially those of the circulatory system. Ninety percent of children were immunized against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and poliomyelitis as of 1984. Increased attention was given to environmental health issues in the wake of the economic growth that occurred in the late 1970s. Grand Cayman had a privately operated desalination plant that provided high-quality water. Little Cayman and Cayman Brac employed a cistern and groundwater supply combination. Despite the generally positive picture, health officials were concerned with a growing substance abuse problem, inadequate mental health care, and an absence of nursing homes. As of December 1986, the Cayman Islands had reported one case of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Inpatient and outpatient services were available at two government-administered hospitals on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac; these institutions contained a total of sixty-six beds in 1984. Maternal and child care, immunizations, and routine nursing care were also available through six district clinics. The islands had sixteen physicians in 1984, approximately 1 for every 800 citizens. Some of the doctors were government medical officers provided by the British. The islands also had fifty-five nurses and eleven midwives.

The government provided some social services, but most islanders depended on the churches and other voluntary community groups for assistance. State pensions did not exist in the mid1980s .

As in the Cayman Islands, noncommunicable diseases were the major causes of death in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Despite this similarity, health conditions were generally poorer in the Turks and Caicos. The Turks and Caicos had a relatively high level of leprosy, estimated at 5 cases per 1,000 population in the early 1980s. The territory was also concerned with the spread of malaria by Haitian workers and increased drug addiction. In 1984 about 60 percent of children under one year of age were immunized against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and poliomyelitis. The Turks and Caicos lacked a public piped water system; as a result, the vast majority of the population relied on rainwater roof catchments and storage cisterns. This had contributed to an enormous mosquito population and sporadic AŽdes aegypti infestations. As of December 1986, there were two reported cases of AIDS.

The Turks and Caicos had a thirty-bed general hospital on Grand Turk Island and twelve primary care health clinics scattered throughout the territory. There was 1 doctor for roughly every 2,000 citizens. As in the Cayman Islands, the British government provided medical officers. The Turks and Caicos had twelve nurses and eleven midwives. Most social services were provided by the churches.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress