Find Health and Medical expertise in Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia has two public hospitals, St Jude’s Hospital and Victoria Hospital, with the latter being the largest. There are district hospitals at Vieux Fort, Dennery and Soufriere that offer primary health care services and limited secondary care and emergency services. There are also more than 30 health centres. Saint Lucia has one privately run hospital, Tapion Hospital, and a number of other private facilities that provide specialised medical and dental services.
Saint Lucia meets its pharmaceutical requirements solely through imports. Total expenditure on pharmaceuticals was about 1.6% of GDP (US$15 million) in 2008. The government imports pharmaceuticals through the Pool Procurement Service of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (PPS/OECS), enabling it to maximise the value of health care services to Saint Lucians through the advantages of buying in bulk collectively, along with neighbouring countries. Saint Lucia’s small pharmaceutical industry is regulated in part by the Pharmacy Council of Saint Lucia to ensure that it functions in the best interests of public health. The council licenses pharmacists, wholesalers, distributors/importers, exporters of medicines and pharmacies.
Universal health coverage
Saint Lucia began taking steps towards implementing universal health care in 1997 when the then Minister of Health appointed a Health Sector Reform Committee and thereby started the most recent health sector reform process. The major financial reform in Saint Lucia’s health sector is the Universal Health Care initiative. The initiative aims, in part, to maximise the use of health resources and create a more efficient health system; reduce the impact of poverty by making health care affordable and accessible; and reduce the resource gap in health to allow for more comprehensive coverage of health needs.
In 2013 a post-2015 MDG report for Saint Lucia was drafted, entitled A Future for SIDS: The Post-2015 Development Agenda in Saint Lucia. The report outlines several recommendations, including overall improvement in the quality and accessibility of health services; and the provision of quality services for the care and protection of disadvantaged people, including children and the elderly.
The process of achieving universal health coverage in Saint Lucia is ongoing. In February 2015, the Ministry of Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations engaged the services of two consultants from the European Union Project to research options for the future financing of the health care system in Saint Lucia.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) accounted for an estimated 78% of all mortality in Saint Lucia in 2008. The most prevalent NCDs in Saint Lucia are cardiovascular diseases, which accounted for 33% of total deaths across all age groups in 2008. Cancer, diabetes and non-communicable variants of respiratory diseases contributed 17%, 12% and 5% to total mortality, respectively (2008). Communicable diseases along with maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions accounted for an estimated 13% of all mortality in 2008. A government paper on HIV/AIDS reported a cumulative 879 HIV cases (338 of which resulted in death) in the period 1985–2001. Saint Lucia is a non-endemic country for malaria. There has been a significant overall reduction in estimated incidence of and a slight overall reduction in estimated mortality (when mortality data excludes cases co-morbid with HIV) from tuberculosis (TB) since 1990.
In 2013 government expenditure on health was 4.7% of GDP. In the most recent survey, conducted between 1997 and 2010, there were 47 doctors, and 216 nurses and midwives per 100,000 people. Additionally, in 2010, 99% of births were attended by qualified health staff and in 2013, 99% of one-year-olds were immunised with one dose of measles. In 2014, 96% of the country’s population was using an improved drinking water source and 91% had access to adequate sanitation facilities.
Almost half of all health care in Saint Lucia (45%) was paid for by patients or funded by other non-governmental entities – such as private insurers, charities or employers – in 2012. Total health expenditure constituted 8.5% of GDP in 2012, of which 55% (US$307 per capita) was covered by the government.
Saint Lucia is not a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the covenant that commits signees to the ensuring ‘the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health’.