§ SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derby, Ilkeston)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to the present unsatisfactory state of the Government Medical Service in the Island of St. Christopher (colony of the Leeward Islands), whereby in four medical districts (Nos. 3, 4, 5, and 6) covering an extent of nearly 50 square miles, with an estimated population of over 20,000, there are only two medical officers; whether he is aware that the last quarterly Report of the Analyser of Vital Statistics stated that the high death-rate of the island was to be attributed to the large number of deaths of infants of the labouring classes, and that at least one death of a poor woman in childbed had occurred from want of medical attendance?
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Baron H. de WORMS,) Liverpool, East Toxteth
It is true that there were till lately only two medical men to four districts in the Island of St. Christopher, but there were three other medical officers in the island. One of the two districts had been left vacant for some years, because the Royal Commission which visited the island in 1883 had reported that the medical staff was larger than was necessary, and because St. Kitts has more doctors in proportion to its size and facility of travelling than perhaps any other West Indian island. However, in response to urgent local representations, the Secretary of State has already taken steps to appoint a new medical officer to the vacant district. The hon. Member's quotation from the Analyser of Vital Statistics is practically correct, though in the same Report it is stated that the general death-rate was probably lower than in any previous 887 year of the century. I may add that the Report assigns special causes for the great infant mortality quite distinct from any want of medical attendance, to which no reference is made.