PHD hosts stakeholders session on mortality coding system

The Public Health Department (PHD), a policy making body of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, organized a meeting recently to sensitize stakeholders on International Classification of Diseases (ICD) coding.


PHD and Collective Prevention Services (CPS) are in the process of implementing the ICD-10 mortality coding system. ICD is a standard diagnostic tool for epidemiology, health management and clinical purposes.

This includes the analysis of the general health situation of population groups and is used to monitor the incidence and prevalence of diseases and causes of death which are then recorded on many types of health and vital records including death certificates and health records.

The death certificate is not only important as a legal document; it serves as a key source of data for cause of death statistics. In order for these statistics to be valid, physicians and coders play a critical role.

PHD Head drs. Fenna Arnell says that the Ministry is currently building its capacity in the application of the ICD-10 mortality coding system and is doing so with technical support from the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC).

Arnell added that the Ministry will have a better overview of the causes and underlying causes of death; have an indication of age and gender distribution of cause of death; and stratified information on the major causes of death in Sint Maarten.

From the data, PHD/CPS will be able to identify key stakeholders and partners when developing interventions, that are evidence based versus experienced based. Sint Maarten will also be able to contribute to regional statistics.

Those that were invited to the information session were physicians from Windward Islands Medical Association (WIMA), St. Maarten Medical Association (SMA), Social & Health Insurances (SZV), the Department of Civil Registry and Emergency Room Physicians.

Sarah Quesnel, Senior Biostatistician of CAREC facilitated the training of Public Health staff and gave a presentation to the group on the importance of mortality coding.

As part of the Minister of Public Health’s "Get Checked," campaign, statistics are essential in the drafting of public health policy and legislation to address the health of the nation.