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Antigua & Barbuda Healthcare

In 1997, the Government approved the National Health Policy for the 1997-2001 period. It reiterates the Government's commitment to the universal provision of health services as a right but calls for creative approaches to health care financing. In 2000, the Ministry of Planning, Implementation and Public Service Affairs was mandated by the Cabinet to produce a four-year National Strategic Development Plan for the period 2001-2004.

The Ministry of Health oversees the public healthcare system, regulation and delivery of services. The Chief Medical Officer is the chief technical advisor to the Ministry and is responsible for coordinating health services delivered in hospitals and health centres. Antigua is divided into six geographically determined medical districts, each of which is served by a government-appointed District Medical Officer responsible for providing medical services to residents. Primary healthcare service in the district includes maternal and child health, health education, environmental sanitation, community mental health, nutrition, diabetic and hypertensive screening and care, communicable disease control and surveillance and home visitation.

In Antigua & Barbuda, four institutions are maintained for the care of the sick and aged. Holberton Hospital, with 135 beds, is the only public acute care facility. The only private hospital is Adelin Medical Center. Residents of Barbuda are served by the Hannah Thomas Hospital, an 8-bed mainly outpatient facility. Other facilities include the Fiennes Institute for the aged, with 100 beds, and the Mental Hospital, with 150 beds. In addition, nine health centres and 18 dispensaries are located throughout the islands. As of 2004, there were an estimated 17 physicians, 328 nurses, and 18 dentists per 100,000 people.

From 1996 to 1999 the Ministry of Health expended about 12-14% of the national budget. The health expenditure per capita was $312 in 1998. The amount disbursed for overseas treatment for a period of 18 months ending in December 2000, was approximately $1 million.

Grants through the Ministry of Health increased from $2.5 million in 1999 to $4 million in 2000. The Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI), the Caribbean Epidemiology Center (CAREC), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and other UN organisations all provided additional assistance.





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