EDITOR, The Tribune
Of the 184 countries listed on the Global COVID-19 Index (GCI) Recovery Dashboard, The Bahamas finds itself ranked dead last, with Denmark, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Latvia, Taiwan, Canada, New Zealand, Finland and the United Kingdom all being ranked in the top ten. Many of these countries would be classified as either developed or first world, as all of them are allies of the United States, with Canada, the United Kingdom, Latvia and Denmark being members of NATO. Our most important and strategic ally, the United States, ranks 132.
On the GCI Recovery Rating Guide, The Bahamas is in category 1, with a recovery index grade of 6.06, among “countries struggling to cope with the crisis...” The Bahamas is not the sole Caribbean country in this category, however. Trinidad and Tobago (22.86) and Dominican Republic (24.97) are included in this division, with Guyana (32.41), Suriname (36.14) and Jamaica (35.06) in category 2. The Caribbean countries placed in category 3 are Antigua and Barbuda (52.87), Dominica (50.47), Barbados (49.64), Grenada (55.73), Haiti (46.94), St. Vincent and The Grenadines (56.22), St. Kitts and Nevis (54.83) and St. Lucia (56.60). What this recovery ranking means for The Bahamas, as compared to its Caribbean counterparts, is that the countries in divisions 2 and 3 are faring better in curtailing the spread of COVID-19.
On the Severity Rating Guide, The Bahamas is in category 3, with a severity index grade of 45.90, as a country that “may be overwhelmed by the crisis with a high percentage of infections....” Bahamians can attest to the Princess Margaret Hospital and the Rand Memorial Hospital both being overwhelmed.
The only other Caribbean country included in the third division is Suriname (57.40), with Dominican Republic being placed lower than any other regional country, in the fourth division with 72.00. Jamaica (22.55), Antigua and Barbuda (27.36), Grenada (22.35), St. Kitts and Nevis (21.56), Barbados (21.26), Dominica (21.78), Guyana (32.41), Trinidad and Tobago (22.71), St. Vincent and The Grenadines (21.66), St. Lucia (19.25) and Haiti (27.05) are listed in category 1, as countries “coping with the crisis with a low percentage of infections and resulting deaths per population.”
Haiti, a country many Bahamians look down on, is ranked 67 spots ahead of us on the GCI Recovery Dashboard, at 117, which is still an abysmal ranking, in all things considered. The highest ranked Caribbean country is St Lucia at 60, with St Vincent and The Grenadines at 63 and Grenada at 67.
St Kitts and Nevis (73), Antigua and Barbuda (89) and Dominica (97) are among the other Caribbean nations to make the top 100, with Barbados (103), Jamaica (151) Suriname (147), Guyana (156), Dominican Republic (173) and Trinidad and Tobago (176) receiving low rankings, like their Caribbean counterpart, The Bahamas.
A top ten ranking of the Caribbean countries would be in the following order: St. Lucia, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Barbados, Haiti, Suriname and Jamaica. Even with a drastically reduced ranking, The Bahamas is unable to crack the top ten. The question now is this: Why is COVID-19 wreaking so much havoc in The Bahamas, as compared to our Caribbean allies? Is it the fault of the Free National Movement and the Progressive Liberal Party?
The answer is no, we cannot blame the Competent Authority for the ongoing crisis. The truth is, all of the underlying health issues that would cause COVID-19 to exact a heavy toll on one’s health are in The Bahamas. In a May 2019 column by former Nassau Guardian Editor Brent Dean titled Fat Land, it was claimed that The Bahamas was ranked the sixth most obese country in the world in 2014, according to the World Health Organisation. Dean also stated that World Population Review “described us as the most obese country in the Caribbean.” A close relative of mine visited Barbados in early March and marvelled at the fact that the overwhelming majority of Bajans were very slim. He didn’t recall seeing any obese Bajan. While we routinely consume plenty American junk food and sugary drinks, Bajans eat a lot of vegetables and roasted meat. A Dominican recently told me that his people back home are just getting used to American fast foods. Bahamians have had a head start in this area for decades, hence the high prevalence of incommunicable diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.
COVID-19 is wreaking havoc in The Bahamas because of our unhealthy lifestyles. Had the government attempted to control what we eat, we would all cry foul. We cannot pass the buck to the government for the nearly 2,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
August 27, 2020.