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Jamaica is the largest English speaking Caribbean Island and became an independent nation in 1962. Jamaica's political governance is by a parliamentary system based on the Westminister model and a bicameral legislature. This facilitates the development of policies including health policies in a collaborative manner with both government and the opposition which ensures sustainability and continuity and is a parliamentary democracy. The government is a constitutional monarchy. The population in 2010 was 2,703,300,  The Human Development Index score puts Jamaica at number 79 in the rankings.  The adult literacy rate is 86.4% and the Gini coefficient is 42.2.

The country has helped to focus international attention on many significant matters such as human rights, decolonisation, economic cooperation and women’s issues.  Poverty is more widespread in the rural areas where the economy is predominantly of the extractive and production-type industries such as agriculture, mining and natural-resource -based tourism. The country which was recently reclassified as a Lower Middle Income Economy (Gross National Income of US$ 19.75 billion) is also undergoing transitional changes in epidemiology and demography.  Jamaica is on track to meet the MDG targets for 2015 with its water supply (93%) and sanitation coverage (80%). However, water and sanitation needs are still not fully covered in rural areas (currently at 42%, compared to 87% in urban areas).  As part of the implementation of the MDGs, the Ministry of Health continues to focus its efforts on the 3 MDG priority areas for the health sector (reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases). The 2009 National Report for the ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review notes that significant progress has been made in the three areas mentioned above. However, the prevalence of noncommunicable diseases which not account for more than 50% of fatal disease outcomes was highlighted.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 April 2012 16:59