Population Survey Into Chronic Diseases and their Risk Factors

The country of Sint Maarten is currently conducting a national population health survey on chronic diseases and their risk factors. This project was initiated by the Government of Sint Maarten and is supported  by the Country Reform package and the Pan-American Health Organization/ World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO). This survey is an important step in the National Multisectoral Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, NCD MAP for short. This 10-year plan outlines the strategic direction and outcomes for Government, foundations, private sector and civil society to address NCDs, their risk factors and social determinants of health.

Image: ©Tijdelijke Werkorganisatie / Adobe Micheal Jung

In line with the National Development Vision, objective 5: Increase access to quality Health, Education and Sports. The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor is executing the Survey as part of the NCD MAP strategic area #1 about NCD surveillance. The aim of the survey is to provide required information to help develop policies and programs for the prevention of chronic diseases.

Collecting data on adults with history of NCDs

PAHO/WHO uses an international method to conduct the Survey called STEPS Survey. The Government of Sint Maarten aims to collect data on behavioral and biological factors that can increase the risk of noncommunicable diseases. Noncommunicable Diseases are conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic long illnesses. The STEPS Survey will provide recent and relevant data on the proportion of the adult population that has a history of NCDs, raised blood pressure/glucose/cholesterol, is physically inactive; has an unhealthy diet; smokes or abuses alcohol, is depressed or anxious, and has had suicidal thoughts. 3,500 households were randomly selected to participate in the survey. House-to-house interviews and health screenings will be conducted among adults between 18 and 69 years. The survey started in July and will end in October 2023.

The NCD MAP has four strategic actions areas:

  1. Strengthen health systems for surveillance, research, monitoring and evaluation on NCD prevalence and risk factors.
  2. Establish governance and coordination mechanisms for multisectoral involvement, decision-making and implementation of the NCD MAP.
  3. Reduce NCD risk factors by creating awareness, promoting healthy lifestyles and addressing determinants of health.
  4. Provide quality, people-centered, integrated and comprehensive services for the effective management of NCDs, including self-management.

Developing prevention tools

Knowing the prevalence of NCD risk factors and coverage of prevention services will help to prioritize and develop health promotion campaigns (universal prevention), population screening programs (selected prevention), guidelines for early detection and management of diseases at primary care level, including lifestyle counseling (indicated prevention) and guidelines for the management and follow-up of people with NCDs by specialized healthcare services (care-related prevention).

Given the high priority given to addressing NCDs on Sint Maarten, the STEPS Survey was placed as one of the tasks in the Country Package. This package is implemented with provisions from the Netherlands Temporary Work Organization (TWO) within the context of its project on “PCCP, Prevention & Health care Infrastructure” (F3.2).