Runaway crime can make all of us sick here in the Caribbean
Physician's Weekly
April 9, 2024

Runaway crime can make all of us sick here in the Caribbean

Dear Honourable Caribbean Prime Ministers:

Greetings from my beautiful homeland of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

Undeniably, our Caribbean is still one of the most desirous zip codes in the world. However, undoubtedly, there is an over-boiling cauldron of criminal activity that not only threatens the socioeconomic stability of our archipelago but also imperils the health of our citizens.

The crime of greatest concern is the unacceptably high homicide numbers throughout our region.

Many in authority have chalked this up to “gang-on-gang warfare,” “the drug trade,” or “domestic violence.”

Some have even implied that if you are not in a gang, don’t deal with drugs, and have a stable relationship, you need not worry.

It must be emphasized that very few who brandish an illegal firearm are trained marksmen. By extension, they cannot guarantee that those close to their intended target will not become collateral casualties. Realistically we are all potential inadvertent victims of gun violence.

The other crime that is very unsettling is break-ins and entering. This is further compounded by the fact that in recent times, here in SVG, many have alleged that they were sprayed with an illegal anaesthetising agent before or when their homes were broken into.

The thought of bandits rummaging through your personal living space while you are asleep is extremely unnerving and disturbing.

Over the last three months, I’ve had an increasing number of patients reporting that they found it very difficult to sleep at night. They wake up every few minutes, checking to see if someone is trying to break into their home. Additionally, they get up to examine the source of any noise and the reason for the neighbourhood dogs barking.

Many now sleep with their windows tightly shut. As a result, their living quarters become very hot, further compromising sleep for everyone within.

Stress, insomnia, an overheated environment, and poor ventilation constitute a recipe for suboptimal biomedical, psychological, and social health.

The Anglophone Caribbean’s homicide/ murder rate per 100,000 people, being the highest on our planet, should be of tremendous concern to:

  • All permanent and transient residents of the region
  • All regional politicians
  • All regional border security and law enforcement officials
  • All locally, regionally, and extra-regionally owned businesses operating in the Caribbean
  • All invested in any aspect of Caribbean tourism
  • All regional religious groups
  • All of the Caribbean’s civil society
  • Our regional criminal justice systems, respectively
  • Poverty alleviation entities
  • Those responsible for meaningfully transforming our respective education systems
  • Mental health providers – ensuring that mental health care is available, accessible, free at the point of delivery, and adequate
  • Those advancing reparations from our former colonizers


Bona fide studies show that the omnipresence of crime within any society can have the following impact on the health of individuals; including those who are not directly impacted by crime:

  • Insomnia
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Stress/ Depression/ Anxiety
  • Weakened immune system
  • Asthma in the susceptible
  • Gastrointestinal complications
  • Seizures in those predisposed
  • Headaches
  • Back/ neck pain
  • Substance abuse
  • Obesity
  • Accidents
  • Accelerated biological aging
  • Premature death
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – This is common in people who have been the direct victim of a crime or who have been directly exposed to a violent criminal act.

Children worrying about crime often experience:

  • Poor sleep
  • Nightmares
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Poor school performance
  • Aggressive and delinquent behaviour
  • Anxiety/ depression
  • Substance abuse

Many grow up to become delinquent adults.

I’d like to analogize our economies to the human body.

Suppose each organ system in our body represented a different area in the economy. Let us assume that the liver represents national security. While the liver is a vital organ, it is not as revered as the heart and brain. Similarly, while national security is vital to a country’s socioeconomic health, it is not regarded as highly as tourism, agriculture, and other areas. However, once the functioning of the liver or national security plummets below a prescribed threshold, death will soon follow and a country will go into socioeconomic turmoil, respectively.

Almost without exception, crime in your country has worsened during your tenure. By default, you cannot avoid shouldering responsibility for this sad state of affairs.

There is a spectrum of excuses that are advanced throughout the length and breadth of our region, ad infinitum, and, in many instances, ad nauseam, to rationalize and justify the current dire crime situation in an overwhelming number of Caribbean jurisdictions.

With political will and concerted effort, all “excuses” shared are mitigatable.

We in the region need to see you deliver tangible results regarding crime reduction before your next general elections.

To bring our region’s runaway crime situation under control will translate into a win-win situation for all of us, including yourselves. Control crime, and you win. A gentle reminder, the opposite also holds.

You need to start nurturing your country’s liver (i.e. national security) back to good health. Your countries are currently in the ICU, and their prognosis is guarded. The ball is squarely in your court.

Let us make our Caribbean safe again.

Best of wishes.


Dr. C. Malcolm Grant
An Unapologetic
Family Physician
Family Care Clinic,
Arnos Vale, SVG.
Former tutor,
Faculty of Medical
Sciences, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados.

CC: Your constituents

  • Disclaimer: The information provided in the above article is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you are seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.
    Dr. C. Malcolm Grant, Family Care Clinic or The Searchlight Newspaper or their associates, respectively, are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information provided above.