Accessing Healthcare in Trinidad and Tobago

All persons in Trinidad and Tobago have access to state-provided primary healthcare. Some medicines are available free of cost with a prescription from a doctor in the health centre or hospital. Certain medicines, like insulin, may not be covered.

For secondary or specialized healthcare services you may have to see a private doctor, which can be costly. These include non-emergency surgical procedures and specialized treatments like dialysis and chemotherapy.

It is your right to seek assistance from Living Water Community and UNHCR to access public healthcare services and you should report all instances when you are denied service.

Things to know when going to the Hospital or Health Centre

When seeking healthcare services at public health institutions in Trinidad and Tobago, use the following tips:

  • While most healthcare services are free to all persons (citizens and non-nationals), when you visit Health Centre in your community without Trinidad and Tobago ID, you may be asked to provide:

a) Another form of identification. ID from your country of origin, passport, driver’s permit, and in some instances your asylum certificate or UNHCR card;

b) Proof of address showing that you live near to the Health Centre. Ensure that you have either a utility bill with your name and address on it, or a signed letter from your landlord/lady with their TT ID number, stating your place of residence. This letter should be written in English;

c) In some cases a referral letter from the Hospital is needed to join a Health Centre, usually based on your health condition like pregnancy, high blood pressure, etc.

  • Ensure that the Health Centre or Hospital can provide the service you seek. For instance some Health Centres do not provide dental services. You can check on the Ministry of Health’s website to find out the services offered by your nearest Health Centre and the contact information to make an appointment.
  • Ensure that you make an appointment. Most Health Centres see patients on an out-patient basis and by appointment only. This applies to antenatal services, dental services, immunization services and more. Appointments are important because not all services are offered every day.

If you have an emergency you should go to Accident and Emergency at a General Hospital near you.

  • Be patient. Accessing public health can take a long time. While most Health Centres operate by appointments, Hospitals and District Health Facilities operate on a triage basis, meaning that persons are attended to from critical to emergency to non-urgent. Depending on the number of cases at any point in time, you may have to wait a few hours to be attended to.
  • If you cannot communicate in English, asylum-seekers and refugees have free access to live translation services via the TARJIMLY app. Note that you must have internet access to use this service.

Alternatively it is your right to seek assistance from Living Water Community and UNHCR to access public healthcare services and you should report all instances when you are denied service.

Antenatal Care

Pregnant women may receive antenatal healthcare at public health facilities, free of cost. Pregnant women should take a referral letter from the general hospital, their private doctor or the results of a pregnancy test (whether done privately or at a healthcare facility) and visit the health facility nearest to where they live.

Note that some facilities may receive a high volume of patients so you may have to make an appointment, and then visit the health facility at the time appointed for antenatal care.

Healthcare for Children

Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian when visiting any health facility in Trinidad and Tobago. Patients are dealt with on a walk-in basis – there is no need to make an appointment except in the instance of immunization and dental services. On arrival, it is necessary to complete the patient registration form provided by the attending nurse.

Children are treated on an outpatient basis at all health facilities. However, children may be admitted for over-night stays only at the Wendy Fitzwilliam Paediatric Hospital.

Wendy Fitzwilliam Paediatric Hospital
Address: Building 5, Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Uriah Butler Highway
Champs Fleurs, Trinidad, West Indies
Telephone: +1 868 645 2640 Ext. 2283
Hours of operation: 24 hours

Other Healthcare Services

With the exception of extractions and some emergency treatments, full dental services are not available to adults in Trinidad and Tobago, both citizens and non-nationals. Dental services for children under the age of 16 are provided at most Health Centres on specific days and times which vary between centres. Dental services are by appointment only. Contact your local Health Centre to find out the dates available to make an appointment.

Only citizens of Trinidad and Tobago can receive cancer care and treatment free of charge.  Non-nationals must pay for treatment.  Patients must be referred by a doctor before accessing treatment for cancer and must bring one form of Trinidad and Tobago identification when you are referred for treatment.

Treatments and medicines for chronic diseases such as: diabetes; asthma; cardiac diseases; arthritis; glaucoma; mental depression; high blood pressure; benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate); epilepsy; hypercholesterolemia; Parkinson’s disease; and thyroid diseases, are not covered for non-nationals.

Although HIV/AIDS testing and medication are available at public health centres in Trinidad and Tobago, these services are not free for non-nationals. Same-Day Rapid Testing and treatment for HIV/AIDS is currently offered at the Family Planning Association for a subsidized fee. Counselling services are free but by appointment only due to the volume of clients.