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Organization of the health sector: Various departments within the MOH are responsible for the implementation of health programs such as health education, environmental health, preventive services, hospital and curative services. Primary health care services are mainly provided at the 34 health centers and two (2) district hospitals. In addition to routine general medicine clinics, special services are offered in obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, surgery, sexually transmitted infections and mental health. Special clinics and basic services are offered to diabetic and hypertensive clients at the primary care facilities. Secondary and specialized care and services are provided at the three general hospitals and the psychiatric hospital. Although clients may seek care at any facility, the administration and management of health facilities are based on the catchment population.
Tourism is the main source of income for St Lucia and the industry is its biggest employer.
The tropical eastern Caribbean island boasts beaches mountains exotic plants and the Qualibou volcano
with its boiling sulphur springs.
Before the visitor influx banana exports sustained St Lucia especially after 1964 when it stopped producing sugar cane.
Along with other Caribbean producers it benefited from preferred access to European markets at the expense of Latin American growers. The World Trade Organisation has ruled that the practice should be phased out.
The volcanic peaks of the Pitons feature on the national flag
Crops such as mangoes and avocados are also grown but bananas are the biggest source of foreign exchange after tourism.
Most St Lucians are the descendants of African slaves brought in by the British in the 19th century to work on sugar plantations.
Although St Lucia is a former British colony the French settled in the 17th century. Their influence lives on in the patois spoken in the country.
Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II represented by Governor-General Pearlette Louisy
Prime minister: Stephenson King
Stephenson King was sworn in as prime minister in September 2007 following the death of veteran leader Sir John Compton.
Mr King served as acting prime minister for several months during Sir John's illness.
Mr King was chosen as successor by MPs of his ruling United Workers Party (UWP). Under the constitution the Governor General appoints as prime minister the MP who commands the confidence of the majority of elected members of parliament.
Sir John Compton helped guide St Lucia to independence from Britain and infuriated China by restoring ties with Taiwan. He was prime minister three times from 1964 to 1979 1982 to 1996 and from December 2006 until his death at the age of 82.
St Lucia's newspapers and broadcasters are mainly privately-owned and carry a range of views. The government operates a radio network.
There are no daily newspapers; the island has two thrice-weekly newspapers.
In 2006 parliament repealed controversial media legislation adopted in 2003 which allowed for jail terms for knowingly publishing false news which harmed the public good.
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