During the first week of May, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), based in Trinidad and Tobago, visited Sint Maarten to support the establishment of a surveillance system for non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
NCDs or chronic diseases are a group of conditions include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, chronic lower
respiratory diseases, sickle cell, mental illness, and injuries.
They are mainly a result of a combination of genetic, environmental, behavioral, and metabolic risk factors brought on
such as by physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, alcohol, air pollution, stress, and overweight/obesity.
CARPHA was invited by the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA) as part of the implementation of the recently approved NCD Multisectoral Action Plan 2021-2030.
During their one-week visit, CARPHA experts visited the St. Maarten Medical Center, the White and Yellow Cross Care
Foundation, the St Maarten Heart and Stroke Foundation, General Practitioners (GPs), the Department of Statistics (STAT), the Civil Registry, the Police Force of Sint Maarten (KPSM) as well as the funeral homes.
The CARPHA experts were impressed by the large amounts of mortality and morbidity data being collected for chronic diseases such as heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, and cancers.
They made recommendations on how to best utilize existing data and infrastructures to develop a national NCD surveillance system.
Dr. Tamu Davidson, Head of the Chronic Disease, and Injury Department of CARPHA, offered Joy Arnell, the Secretary General of the Ministry of VSA, their recently developed regional guidelines for diabetes as well as promotional material regarding NCDs.
CARPHA’s offer to provide continued support and training to strengthen mortality and cancer registration in Sint Maarten was highly appreciated.