Saint Kitts and Nevis

Information for patients
Saint Kitts and Nevis is a two-island federation, therefore there are two ministries of health with same organizational structure. Each Ministry is organized into three programs: the Office of Policy Development and Information Management, which includes the health information unit; Community-Based Health Services, which includes family health services, environmental health, and health promotion; and Institution-Based Health Services, which includes patient care services. 

There is no national health insurance in Saint Kitts and Nevis. Employed persons in the country, including resident expatriates, are required to contribute to the national Social Security Fund which only covers sickness and retirement benefits.

Citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis who children under the age of 18 years and persons over the age of 62 years are exempt from all medical charges. Additionally, medical care is provided free of charge at all primary, secondary, and tertiary level to all residents (including foreigners with legal residency) who cannot afford the associated costs. 

The main public referral hospital is the 150-bed Joseph N. France General Hospital, located in Saint Kitts. The Alexandra Hospital is a 50-bed hospital located in Nevis. There are two district hospitals on Saint Kitts that provide basic inpatient care. There are 17 public primary care facilities (11 on Saint Kitts and 6 on Nevis). They offer free of charge services at the point of delivery for local citizens, including maternal and child health, chronic disease management, and general medical care services.

There are also long-term public and private geriatric services. Persons requiring tertiary level care, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, must usually go abroad.

The country has no private hospitals but there are a number of private doctors’ clinics. A new private hospital has been initiated by a US healthcare group and it is currently under construction at Christophe Harbour on St Kitts.

St. Kitts and Nevis lacks some medical necessities. Individuals suffering from severe illnesses and injuries may be required to travel overseas in order to receive comprehensive medical care. Patients from St. Kitts who travel overseas for medical treatment will usually go to the USA. Residents who plan to utilize medical services in the USA usually purchase a medical insurance policy which covers the USA due to the prohibitive cost of treatment.


Information for healthcare professionals
The single Chief Medical Officer for the Federation is responsible for oversight of scientific and technical matters pertaining to public health policy, health status monitoring, and regulation of health professionals. Nurses are regulated by the Principal Nursing Officer and by the St. Christopher and Nevis Nurses and Midwives Council.

In 2015, Saint Kitts and Nevis had 23.3 physicians, 36.6 nurses, and 3.5 dentists per 10,000 inhabitants. Of the 118 physicians registered in 2015, 21% worked in the public sector and 32% in both the private and public sectors


Information for travellers
Travellers and expatriates can access the country’s public healthcare facilities but will have to pay a fee to do so, even at the public hospitals.

Despite being an international hot spot for scuba diving, the country does not have hyperbaric chambers to treat decompression sickness. The closest hyperbaric chamber can be found in the Netherlands Antilles. Emergency evacuation in the case of caisson disease is expensive, up to US$ 50,000 for transportation and proper medical care during the journey.

Certification of inoculation of yellow fever is a requirement to enter the country for all travelers over the age of one year old; however, there is no risk of contracting the disease. Routine vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B, Tetanus, etc should be up-to-date. There is, however, a threat of contracting rabies while in Saint Kitts and Nevis. If you are bitten by an animal, especially a bite from a dog, you should seek immediate medical attention so PEP treatment can be administered.

There is a risk of contracting Malaria and Dengue Fever during your stay in Saint Kitts and Nevis, in which both diseases are transmitted through mosquito bites. There are no medications or vaccinations available to prevent the infection of dengue fever. Commonsense methods of prevention, such as wearing insect repellent, long-sleeves, and using bed nets are recommended. For comprehensive information on health risks and preventative care, you should consult a medical care professional before your trip, preferably one specialized in travel medical care.


Link to Ministry of Health: https://www.gov.kn

 

 


References
https://www.paho.org/salud-en-las-americas-2017/?p=4298
https://www.who.int/countries/kna/en/
http://www.commonwealthhealth.org/americas/st_kitts_and_nevis/health_systems_in_st_kitts_and_nevis/
https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/st-kitts-and-nevis/health
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/caribbean-healthcare-partners-announces-state-of-the-art-medical-institute-planned-for-christophe-harbour-on-the-eastern-caribbean-island-of-st-kitts-300776020.html
https://www.lonelyplanet.com/st-kitts-and-nevis/narratives/practical-information/health
https://www.pacificprime.com/questions/do-expats-need-health-insurance-in-st.-kitts/
https://www.who.int/medicines/areas/coordination/SaintKittsNevis_country_profile.pdf?ua=1