PHILIPSBURG:--- Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are responsible for 81% of all deaths in the region of the Americas, of which 34% befall prematurely in people below the age of 70 years. The main NCDs that affect the region as well as St Maarten are cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and respiratory diseases. The PAHO/WHO STEPwise approach to NCD risk factor surveillance (STEPS) is a simple, standardized method for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating data on key NCDs and their risk factors. STEPS is a household survey that gathers information through a face-to-face interview (step 1), simple physical measurements (step 2), and collection of blood samples for biochemical analysis (step 3). Implementing STEPS allows the comparability of data within and between countries due to its standardized data collection. It also helps health services plan public health priorities and monitors and evaluates population-wide interventions.
As planned in the National Multisectoral Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases 2021-2030, and with support from PAHO/WHO, the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA) will conduct a STEPS Survey to assess NCDs and their risk factors among the population of St. Maarten. In short, between July and October 2023, a random sample of around 3,500 adults between the ages of 18 and 69 years across all districts will be visited and invited for an interview and physiological and biochemical measurements. Data will be collected on people’s lifestyles related to nutrition, physical activity, alcohol, and tobacco use; their BMI, blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels; and their experience with preventative health services.
The STEPS Survey will generate recent and reliable information to guide the development of suitable prevention programs and public policy for St. Maarten. The survey findings will help to prioritize health promotion campaigns, population screening programs, and care guidelines for early detection and management of NCDs.
Minister Ottley noted “In June 2022, The Ministry of VSA and PAHO presented the vision of the NCD MAP which is a vibrant St. Maarten society where health and wellbeing are the way of life for all people to achieve their fullest potential in a stigma-free, equitable and supportive community. By embarking on this nationwide health survey, the Ministry of VSA is executing a critical activity of the National Multisectoral Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases. The data collected will give us invaluable information on the current population's lifestyle as it relates to nutrition, physical activity alcohol, and tobacco use. These choices certainly impact our well-being, physical condition, and mental state and that subsequently has consequences for our quality of life. We strongly encourage every selected resident to wholeheartedly participate in this household survey and keep in mind that this initiative will take place over the next few months beginning end of July.”