Not a Matter of Luck

There are a lot of diseases that most of us do not need to die from. Our health care systems are able to provide proper care and hence our life expectancy is higher than in other regions of the world. Kiribati ranks 174th in the world in terms of life expectancy, with the average life lasting only 66.9 years. The country ranks last in life expectancy out of the 20 nations located in the Oceania region of the Pacific. But how can it be, that life expectancy is so much lower in the land with the shortest life expectancy and the highest risk of dying of cardiovascular diseases or cancer?

Let us give you some facts about Kiribati that all factor in. The entire nation’s population is comprised of roughly 122,000 citizens. Even with such a small population, Kiribati faces serious issues relating to overcrowding. The Western Gilbert Islands (one of the three archipelagoes comprising Kiribati) boasts some of the highest population densities on earth, rivaling cities like Tokyo and Hong Kong. This overcrowding causes great amounts of pollution, worsening the quality and length of life for the Kiribati people. Additionally, due to underdeveloped sanitation and water filtration systems, only about 66 percent of those living in Kiribati have access to clean water.  Poor sanitation has led to an increase in cases of diarrhea, dysentery, conjunctivitis, rotavirus and fungal infections. Also around 61.5 percent of Kiribati citizens smoke tobacco products on a regular basis. There are more smokers per capita in Kiribati than in any other country in the South Pacific, which are known contributing factors for developing cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

The Health Ministry Strategic Plan (HMSP) plans to raise both the quality and quantity of health care facilities in the country. The Ministry’s goal is to maintain a minimum of 40 trained health care professionals for every 10,000 people and to have at least 80 percent of medicines and commodities that have been deemed essential, available at all times.

Posted on
November 26, 2021
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