SKN’s HDI surge credited to border reopening, healthcare, education innovations

Basseterre, St. Kitts – The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis has witnessed a remarkable surge in its Human Development Index (HDI) ranking, catapulting the country to new heights. This upward trajectory is being attributed to a series of actions undertaken by the St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party government.

Following the government’s decision to reopen the country’s borders on 7th August, 2022, St. Kitts and Nevis has seen a marked improvement in its economic fortunes. This is according to the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Terrance Drew, as he engaged the media and public on the 9th April, 2024 edition of The Roundtable.

The strategic move to reopen the country to the world in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic was touted for its significant positive impact on economic growth by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). I also marked a turning point for the twin-island federation after the economic downturn associated with the pandemic-induced lockdowns.

“The number one decision that was made in terms of the economy, by this Labour administration… was to open up the economy on August 7th, 2022. Read the IMF Report; it is very clear when it speaks about that one single decision and how that influenced significantly and positively to our economic growth”, the Prime Minister Drew said.

He further explained that reopening the country allowed the Tourism sector to recover which contributed significantly to the country’s performance in the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Index.

While St. Kitts and Nevis managed to rank first in Caricom and 51 of the 193 nations assessed, Dr. Drew noted that the country’s performance could have been better had the country reopened earlier. He noted that the poor decision of the former administration, led by Dr. Timothy Harris, to unnecessarily isolate the Federation from the world resulted in the loss of tens of millions of dollars .

The Labour government has heavily criticised the previous administration for enforcing restrictive Covid-19 measures for what Prime Minister Drew described as “political” reasons that were not backed by the scientific data available at the time.

Another key area Dr. Drew attributed to the Federation’s outstanding HDI performance was his administration’s move to strengthen the healthcare system. Among other things, the new government almost immediately implemented the Children’s Health Fund. This fund has improved the outcomes of children with critical illnesses whose parents did not have access to the financial resources necessary to access specialised treatment. The introduction of the fund, along with the Federation having achieved the lowest infant mortality rate in its history in 2023, resulted in the country’s HDI gains.

Similarly, the education system has undergone a transformative shift, ushering in a new era of accessibility. Following the removal of lingering Covid-19 restrictions by the Drew Labour government, schools were fully reopened, providing students with uninterrupted access to education. Additionally, the government’s decision to make college education free and increase subsidies for preschool children has significantly expanded educational opportunities.

The reforms in the healthcare and education sectors have enhanced the quality of life for those residing in the Federation which were instrumental in the nation’s high HDI ranking.

According to the UNDP Human Development Report, over the assessed period, St. Kitts and Nevis recorded an HDI of 0.838 which represents an increase of 0.006 percent from the 2021 figure.

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