The Burden of Disease in St. Maarten and Public Health Recommendations for Addressing Disparities in a Resource-Limited Country


T. Newsome, P. Pinnamaneni.


There is a high prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCD) in the Caribbean Islands due to the strained infrastructure and limited resources. The island of Sint Maarten is one such country in the Caribbean that faces health care disparities due to these constraints. There has been an increase in the elderly adult population leading to an increase in the number of people developing NCDs. High blood pressure presents as the leading NCD in the country followed by diabetes mellitus, and asthma. For NCD related deaths, heart disease was the leading cause followed by diabetes mellitus. Two studies conducted on children also revealed that obesity was prevalent in the younger population as a result of nutritional behavior and physical inactivity. An increase in disease prevalence is creating a burden on the resources available as there is an increased demand for health resources and interventions.


A literature review of the Health Caribbean Coalition was conducted to see what plans were implemented to address the increasing disease prevalence and resource burden in the Caribbean Islands.


The Health Caribbean Coalition has developed a transformative action plan to address NCDs and health disparities in resource-limited communities. These interventions address the five main risk factors that lead to NCD deaths and promote factors which will reduce childhood obesity. Other action plans consist of social inclusion and participation for policy development; people-centered, primary health care-based health systems for universal health, partnerships, networks, and resource mobilization; and accountability for decision making. By controlling these modifiable risk factors and government/community interventions to reduce NCDs in the Caribbean, 80% of all heart attacks, strokes, and type 2 diabetes, as well as 40% of cancers can be prevented.


However, as well-intentioned as this action plan is, its implementation has left out many of the smaller Caribbean islands, such as Sint Maarten, and has been stilted by lack of resources, competing priorities, and limited knowledge. Thus, future recommendations should address these shortcomings to ensure success in decreasing the burden of NCDs in these communities.



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