Bahamas


We visited the Bahamas in May 2015. We seek your help and support in continuing our work in the Bahamas, and around the world.


The Bahamas, officially the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is an island country of the Lucayan Archipelago consisting of more than 700 islands, cays, and islets in the Atlantic Ocean; north of Cuba and Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic); northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands; southeast of the U.S. state of Florida and east of the Florida Keys.

Bahamas on the map

Bahamas on the map

 

Originally inhabited by the Lucayan, a branch of the Arawakan-speaking Taino people, the Bahamas were the site of Columbus’ first landfall in the New World in 1492. The Bahamas became a British Crown colony in 1718, until 1973 when it became an independent Commonwealth realm.

Coat of arms of the Bahamas

Coat of arms of the Bahamas

The coat of arms of the Bahamas contains a shield with the national symbols as its focal point. The shield is supported by a marlin and a flamingo, which are the national animals of the Bahamas. The flamingo is located on the land, and the marlin on the sea, indicating the geography of the islands. On top of the shield is a conch shell, which represents the varied marine life of the island chain. The conch shell rests on a helmet. Below this is the actual shield, the main symbol of which is a ship representing the Santa María of Christopher Columbus, shown sailing beneath the sun. Along the bottom, below the shield appears a banner upon which is scripted the national motto: “Forward, Upward, Onward Together.”

The country relies on tourism to generate most of its economic activity. Tourism as an industry not only accounts for over 60 percent of the Bahamian GDP, but provides jobs for more than half the country’s workforce. The Bahamas attracted 5.8 million visitors in 2012, more than 70 percent of which were cruise visitors.

Prince George Wharf in Nassau Harbor

Prince George Wharf in Nassau Harbor

The Bahamas has an estimated population of 382,825, of which 25.9% are under 14, 67.2% 15 through 64, and 6.9% over 65. As per International Diabetes Federation, there were 34,900 cases of diabetes in the Bahamas in 2014. The prevalence of diabetes in adults (20-79 years) is about 13.1%. The number of undiagnosed cases are about 6400. This leads to a heavy burden on disease on the country and its people.

Until a few years back, there was no retinal specialist in the country. Dr Agrawal, our CEO, had worked in the Bahamas in 2002-2003 when he was the only retinal specialist in the Bahamas and surrounding areas. Since then, Dr Juli Dean, the head of the Dept. of Ophthalmology at the Princess Margaret Hospital, and Dr Dawn Russell, who is mainly in private practice, have come back to Nassau, Bahamas. But with so many islands that form the country, it is difficult to provide timely and regular retinal care to the people of the Bahamas.