Dominica Medical Insurance
Dominica, or as it’s officially known, the Commonwealth of Dominica, is a small island in the Caribbean Sea. To the northwest of the island lies Guadeloupe and to the southeast lies Martinique. Dominica has an estimated population of 72,500 spread over a landmass of 750 square kilometres. The capital city is Roseau, and the country’s official language is English. Dominica is covered by rainforest and is home to the world’s second largest boiling lake, due to the island still being formed by geothermal-volcanic activity. There a numerous waterfalls, springs and rivers.
The Commonwealth of Dominica is one of the few republics in the Caribbean. It has a parliamentary democracy with the president as head of state, and a prime minister who exercises executive power. The economy relies heavily on agriculture, predominately the cultivation of bananas, but is moving more toward tourism due to a government lead initiative to promote the Commonwealth of Dominica as an ecotourism destination. The estimated per capita income is $10,500 with 30 percent of the population living below the international poverty line. The unemployment rate was 23 percent in 2000.
The total expenditure by government on health was 6.7 percent of GDP which equates to an average of $481 per person. The life expectancy at birth is 72 years old for males and 76 years old for females. The infant mortality rate is 12.78 deaths for every 1,000 births.
There are four main public hospitals on the island, Grand Bay hospital, Marigot hospital, Portsmouth hospital and Princess Margaret hospital. Princess Margaret is the only hospital equipped to handle emergency surgery or operations. Hospital services in the Commonwealth of Dominica may be considered limited when compared to the UK and the USA. Private clinics can be accessed in the larger cities and towns; however, they require immediate cash payment for any medical services they administer. It is imperative that you possess comprehensive Dominica medical insurance policy in order to avoid these costs when receiving medical treatment within the country. The Government has plans to introduce a national health insurance scheme to improve the efficiency of the health care service.
Health care services operate on two levels in Dominica- primary and secondary health care services. At the community level there are 7 health centres and 44 clinics strategically situated throughout the island, where healthcare is provided free of charge to the patient. The island is further divided into 7 health districts, with clinics that provide primary care for an average 600 persons within a five mile radius of the municipalities which they serve. Secondary health care is provided by Princess Margaret Hospital. All persons under the age of 17 years old, pregnant women, the indigent, and persons suffering from communicable disease are exempt from medical care charges.
There are approximately six ambulances operated by the fire department. Staff are trained Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT). They can perform CPR and other minor life support functions. The emergency services can be contact by calling 999 for Fire/Police and Ambulance or 333 for the Crisis hotline. Ambulance response time is quick throughout Dominica.
As of 2011 none of the hospitals in Dominica provided treatment for decompression, sickness despite the fact that Princess Margaret hospital has a decompression chamber. In order to access a hyperbolic chamber, divers must be evacuated off the island resulting in expensive medical costs in the region of tens of thousands of dollars. Travellers are advised to invest in a comprehensive international Dominica medical insurance policy which provides an emergency evacuation or repatriation benefit, especially if they wish to undertake water based activities such as scuba-diving.
The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the Commonwealth of Dominica is estimated at 0.75 percent with is considerably higher then the UK, which itself has a HIV/Aids rate of 0.2 percent. In 2009, the number of reported HIV/Aids cases within Dominica stood at 350, with 70 percent of those infected being male. The group at the highest risk of contracting the disease are men that have sex with other men. There have been 77 HIV-related deaths recorded between the years of 1997 to 1999 by the Health Information Unit.
All routine vaccinations such as measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), diphtheria/pertussis/ tetanus (DPT), HIB, and polio should be up-to-date before travelling to the Commonwealth of Dominica. You are advised to consult with your medical care professional, preferably one specialised in travel medicine, at least six weeks before departure to the country.
A Yellow fever vaccination is a requirement for entry to the Commonwealth of Dominica, even though there is no risk of contracting the disease while in the country. The vaccine is to be administrated ten days before arrival, and thereafter at ten year intervals.
Dengue fever, contracted from the bite of the Aedes mosquitoes is present within Dominica, with one death being recorded due to dengue hemorrhagic fever. The Aedes mosquito feeds mainly during day light hours. There are no preventative medications or vaccines available for dengue fever. Symptoms manifest as sudden fever accompanied by severe headaches. Preventative measures such as wearing insect repellent, long pants and sleeves, sleeping in air-conditioned rooms and using bed-nets, are recommended.
Malaria was believed to be eradicated on the island in 1962 however during 1997 – 1999 six cases were reported.
Hepatitis A, a viral disease that causes inflammation of the liver, poses a risk to travellers in the Commonwealth of Dominica. Infection occurs by ingesting contaminated food or water, or by means of direct contact with an infected person. Hepatitis B, also a viral disease that affects the liver causing inflammation, is present. Other effects of Hep B are vomiting, jaundice and in some cases death. Hepatitis B is transmitted by bodily fluids or blood. There is an estimated 2 to 7 percent of the Dominican population infected with the Hepatitis B virus. Vaccinations are available and should be received before travel to the country.
Rabies is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the brain and can be contracted from contact with wild or domestic animals. Rabies is fatal unless post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment is sought within ten days of the infection. For those planning on spending time in rural areas, exercising outside, veterinarians, expatriates or long term travellers, vaccinations should be considered as well as comprehensive medical insurance to cover the cost of medical services.
The hurricane season usually occurs in the Caribbean from June to November. Visitors to the area are advised to stay up-to-date with local and international weather reports, which are available from the World Meteorological Organisation, or the US Hurricane Centre. There is also a danger of earthquakes within Dominica.
There is a low rate of reported street crime in Dominica however violent crime including murder has occurred among the local community. Travellers are advised to exercise the same level of security awareness as they would in there home country. Remain in groups in isolated areas and avoid walking alone on beaches after dark. Keep a copy of your passport separate to the original to ensure easy renewal encase it is stolen. It is an offence in Dominica for anyone, including children, to wear camouflage clothing.
If you are considering visiting the Caribbean island of Dominica and would like to discuss, free of charge, the range of comprehensive medical insurance available to you, then call Pacific Prime today. Our team of professional consultants can offer you advice on a range of medical services from dental, maternal, transportation and many more. Our health insurance policies covering Dominica are tailor made to suit all budgets no matter what stage of life you may be at. For more information, or to receive a free health insurance quote, contact us now.