Supporting The Public Sector of Dominica
Public spending on education was 3.5 per cent of GDP in 2010. There are 12 years of compulsory education starting at the age of five. Primary school comprises seven years and secondary five. Some 91 per cent of pupils complete primary school (2010).
All early childhood centres are privately owned, with most being operated by the church. The Education Act 1997 provides for the regulation of pre-primary education services within the private sector, which are controlled by the Education Minister.
Further education is provided at a teacher-training college, nursing school and at the regional University of the West Indies, which has a branch in Dominica. The Dominica State College, a publicly funded institution, offers programmes leading to GCE A level, certificates and associate degrees.
Public spending on health was four per cent of GDP in 2010. The health system operates through local clinics, larger health centres, a polyclinic in Roseau and the national referral hospital, the Princess Margaret Hospital. There is a smaller hospital at Portsmouth and cottage hospitals at Marigot and Grand Bay. Infant mortality was 11 per 1,000 live births in 2011.
The Private Sector Foundation for Health in Dominica was established in 2005. The founding members believed that the health sector was in crisis and that the state was not able to meet the nation’s health needs. Comprised of 18 corporate members, the foundation offers private contributions to help to buy medical equipment for Princess Margaret Hospital. It also provides grants to Dominicans who need to go abroad for treatment unavailable on the island.
An informal PPP sees a local pharmacy chain working with the National HIV/AIDS Response Program (NHARP) to ensure that HIV-positive clients receive immediate free treatment for infections. The pharmacy gives medication to patients with approved prescriptions and then invoices the NHARP for reimbursement.
There are 780 km of roads, 50 per cent of which are paved. The round-island network was completed in the late 1980s, despite the technical difficulties presented by Dominica’s mountainous terrain and friable volcanic rock.
Banana boats and tourist cruise ships call at Roseau, the deep-water harbour in Woodbridge Bay and Prince Rupert’s Bay, Portsmouth.
Airports: The airports at Melville Hall, 64 km north-east of Roseau, and Canefield, 5 km north of Roseau, can accommodate only turbo-prop passenger aircraft. In the 1990s, the construction of a new airport with a runway long enough for long-haul jets from North America and Europe was seen as the key to tourism expansion, but it proved impossible to secure financial backing for the project. Tourists flying into Dominica, therefore, generally come via the nearby island of Antigua.
Buses: Privately owned minivans provide bus services across the island.