01.02.02. Prevalence and burden of significant communicable diseases or conditions | Jamaica

01.02.02. Prevalence and burden of significant communicable diseases or conditions | Jamaica

24 Sep 2022

Tuberculosis (TB)

There were 1,659 notifications of suspected cases of tuberculosis between 2011 and 2015 in Jamaica. Of these, 32.6% were confirmed, with the highest confirmation rate (51.2%) in 2015. Most of the cases were in young adults (25–34 years old), with the fewest in the 5 to 14-year age group. In 2015, all age groups recorded an increase in cases, with an average of 114.7 new cases per annum from 2006-2015. Non-compliance and inadequate monitoring of Directly Observed Therapy, Short Course (DOTS), a strategy used to reduce TB prevalence, had a negative impact on treatment success rates (PAHO, 2017).


PAHO also estimates Jamaica’s HIV prevalence to be at 1.6% among the general population. It also estimates that 29,000 persons are currently living with HIV in Jamaica, with approximately 16% of those persons being unaware of their status (PAHO, 2017). Between 1982 and 2015, 34,125 cases of HIV were reported to the Ministry of Health. Of these, 9,517 (27.9%) are known to have died (MOH, 2016).

PAHO also notes that Jamaica has improved its HIV prevention program with the adoption of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 targets and now provides increased access to treatment and care services (PAHO, 2017). However, factors such as inconsistent follow-ups, inconsistent condom use, and poverty have been found to be challenges to combating the epidemic (MOH, 2016).


The 2016 Global Nutrition Report highlights that Jamaica saw success with only one of the global nutrition targets, reducing wasting in children. However, some progress is being made in meeting the targets of reducing stunting and overweight and achieving exclusive breastfeeding. Unfortunately, the country is yet to see success with reducing anaemia in women of reproductive age (International Food Policy Research Institute, 2016).

Other significant communicable diseases in Jamaica include vector-borne diseases, namely Dengue Fever, Chikungunya (CHIKV) and Zika virus (ZIIKV)

As of October 2019, there were 88 dengue-related deaths for 2019, almost double the amount recorded for 2018. A Dengue outbreak was declared on the island by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in January 2019, with 4,400 confirmed cases being reported by October 2019 (Statement of the Minister of Health Dr. The Hon, 2019).

CHIKV first emerged in Jamaica in 2014. During the JHLS-III between 2016 and 2017, the prevalence rate of CHIKV among Jamaicans was 48.8%; however, 8 out of 10 Jamaicans had a positive serum (blood) test for the disease. Zika emerged in Jamaica in 2016. Only 6% of Jamaicans reported that they had Zika, with the highest rate of self-reporting occurring within the 45-54-year-old age group (Ministry of Health Jamaica, 2018).

The top 3 leading causes of death in the English and Dutch speaking Caribbean between 2000-2016 were cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, and ischemic heart disease, which, collectively, accounted for 29.6% of all deaths over the period (CARPHA, 2017).


Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). (2017). State of Public Health in the Caribbean Region 2014-2016: Building Resilience to Immediate and Increasing Threats: Vector-Borne Diseases and Childhood Obesity. Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. https://carpha.org/Portals/0/Documents/State-of-Public-Health-in-the-Caribbean-2014-2016.pdf

International Food Policy Research Institute. 2016. Global Nutrition Report 2016: From Promise to Impact: Ending Malnutrition by 2030. Washington, DC.

Ministry of Health Jamaica. (2018). Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey III: Preliminary Findings. https://www.moh.gov.jm/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Jamaica-Health-and-Lifestyle-Survey-III-2016-2017.pdf

Ministry of Health Jamaica. (2016). HIV EPIDEMIOLOGICAL PROFILE 2015 , Facts & Figures Ministry of Health. https://moh.gov.jm/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/2015-Epi-Update-Revised-Final.pdf

PAHO. (2017). Salud en las Américas+, Edición del 2017. Resumen: panorama regional y perfiles de país. Available from: https://iris.paho.org/handle/10665.2/34322

Statement of the Minister of Health Dr. The Hon. Christopher Tufton on the Dengue Outbreak in Jamaica Parliament -. (2019, January 8). Jamaica Information Services. https://jis.gov.jm/speeches/statement-of-the-minister-of-health-dr-the-hon-christopher-tufton-on-the-dengue-outbreak-in-jamaica-parliament-8-january-2019/