Health care is free to all Mauritians. The Mauritian government has developed a comprehensive health care plan to serve the needs of Mauritians. The Ministry of Health oversees a system of curative, preventive and family services. The Ministry also provides facilities for the disabled, controls the practice of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy, and prepares and publishes reports on health care in Mauritius.

Curative services are provided by hospitals. There are four large regional hospitals, which offer a full range of surgical and medical services. Smaller district hospitals provide general medical care. Preventive services are offered by the Government Analyst Division, the Occupational Health Unit and the Environmental Health Unit. Mauritius has had an AIDS prevention and control program since 1987. Family planning services and maternal and child health clinics are also available. Private clinics serve those who can afford to pay for medical treatment. The government is encouraging the private health care system and offers incentives to the operators of private facilities.

Since the 1950s, the health of Mauritians has improved and life expectancy has increased from 60 to 65 years for men and from 65 to 73 years for women. Infant mortality during the same period dropped from 162 per thousand births to 18. The major causes of death today are diseases of the circulatory and respiratory systems, and cancers. Unlike many other tropical countries, Mauritius has largely eradicated malaria, yellow fever and cholera through a program of vaccinations.

Many Mauritians treat minor ailments with remedies made from herbs that are sold in markets and pharmacies. For example, a combination of mint leaves, ginger and garlic is used as a remedy for stomach problems.

   Did you know?
Because of the elimination of malaria and improvements in health care in the 1950s, the population of Mauritius grew so quickly that the government decided to encourage contraception and family planning. Today, the birth rate has decreased.