The Department of Health of today functions as both the state regulatory agency and the territorial public health agency for the U.S. Virgin Islands.
As set forth by the Virgin Islands Code, Titles 3 and 19, the Department of Health (DOH) has direct responsibility for conducting programs of preventive medicine, including special programs in Maternal and Child Health, Family Planning, Environmental Sanitation, Mental Health, and Drug and Substance Abuse Prevention.
DOH also is responsible for health promotion and protection, regulation of health care providers and facilities, and policy development and planning, as well as maintaining the vital statistics for the population.
DOH provides Emergency Medical Services, issues birth and death certificates, performs environmental health services, and conducts health research and surveys. The Department is also responsible for regulating and licensing health care providers and facilities, and assumes primary responsibility for the health of the community in the event of a disaster.
An Obstetrician, Surgeon and General Practitioner, Dr. Knud Knud-Hansen was born in Denmark. He received his early education in Copenhagen and upon completion he entered the University to pursue a medical career. Dr. Hansen in his autobiography, From Denmark to the Virgin Islands, describes these years as "long years of happy misery". To support himself through medical school he taught Zoology in a Miss West's Higher Girls School and doubled as a news critic for a newspaper syndicate.
When slaves became ill or their sense of justice was stifled, they often sought help in the spiritual world and went to the “Obeah man”. With rituals and magical objects, he could restore health and a sense of justice.
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