If you are planning to study in Grenada, it’s important to understand the health care system and how it can affect you. According to a 2000 report by the World Health Organization, Grenada has one of the best health care systems in the Caribbean. Grenada takes tremendous pride in its primary care, which it provides to its citizens largely free-of-charge. Many foreigners, however, might find the level of care to be lower than what they are used to.
Grenada’s healthcare system is organized and run by the Ministry of Health (MOH), which steers policy and finance decisions for the country’s thirty-six public health facilities. These facilities, which include thirty medical stations and six health centers, are laid out so that every household is within three miles of a healthcare provider. The islands feature four private hospitals and four public hospitals, with General Hospital in St. George’s being the government’s premier facility. The islands’ only mental health facilities are housed at the public Mt. Gay Hospital, on Carriacou.
In recent years, a central focus of the MOH has been to provide its citizenry with excellent primary care. To this end, primary health care services are usually offered free at public health centers. Citizens incur only a small fee for medicine, lab-work, or other diagnostics; and fees are waived for the elderly, children, and the indigent. Although there is no national health insurance, all Grenadians are required to participate in a social security program, the National Insurance Scheme, which provides coverage for work-related injuries.
It is estimated that only 9% of the population carries private health insurance.
Off-island care plays a large role in emergency and advanced medical treatment.
A 2011 report by the United States Agency for International Development found that many Grenadians were concerned with the quality of care they received in public hospitals. In the same report, several Grenadians stated that they believed the country’s private healthcare was of superior quality.
Although the government has been largely successful advancing its primary care initiatives, Grenada is woefully behind in several key specialties, including oncology/hematology, radiology, internal medicine, and emergency medicine. In fact, procedures such as CT scans, dialysis, and digital X-rays can only be performed by the country’s private hospitals.
As a result, off-island care plays a large role in emergency and advanced medical treatment. Patients with secondary care needs are often flown to other facilities in the Caribbean or the United States. The financial burden for such care is enormous and unavailable to the vast majority of Grenadians, for whom private insurance is not an option. Typically, only the wealthiest of Grenadians and European or American expatriates can afford to pursue the care they need off-island.
If you are studying in Grenada, it is strongly recommended you acquire private insurance.