Nation-wide STEPS Health Survey underway in St. Maarten

Nation-wide STEPS Health Survey underway in St. Maarten

Photo: The in-house STEPS project team, Sharine, Lisette, Sanne and Yolaine

A collaboration between Department of Public Health, PAHO, and SZV aims to assess Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and associated risk factors.

The Department of Public Health, in partnership with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and Social and Health Insurances (SZV), is currently conducting a nation-wide survey to assess the prevalence of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) among the residents of St. Maarten.

The survey, known as the STEPS Health Survey, also aims to gather information on lifestyle choices, nutrition, and physical activity factors that contribute to the overall risk.

Launched in July, the survey is set to continue until March 2024, providing a comprehensive understanding of the health landscape in St. Maarten. A total of 3,500 individuals, from the adult population ages 18 to 69, have been randomly selected to participate in the survey.

Trained interviewers and blood collectors are visiting randomly pre-selected addresses throughout St. Maarten, following a new 2022 Census list to conduct interviews and physical measurements, and blood tests to gather accurate data.

The survey follows a three-step process: Interview questions, physical measurements (such as height, weight, blood pressure, waist and hip circumference), and a blood test for glucose and cholesterol. Participants receive their test results immediately, providing them with a free health screening.

“The STEPS Survey is a crucial initiative to assess the scope of chronic diseases and their risk factors among the population of St. Maarten,” stated a spokesperson from the Department of Public Health. “By evaluating lifestyle factors and conducting measurements of key health indicators, we can identify individuals at risk and provide them with immediate results and necessary healthcare advice.”

While the survey aims to reach a target of approximately 2,400 persons, the Department of Public Health shared that progress has been affected by challenges such as inconsistent addresses and individuals not being available during visits. Efforts are being made to promote the survey’s importance and increase response rates.

To ensure anonymity and confidentiality, persons can rest assured that personal identification details are not collected or used in any survey report. Data is stored securely on a password-protected server accessible only to authorised personnel. 

The results of the survey will be invaluable for the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA and Social and Health Insurances SZV in developing prevention policies and programmes. The survey aligns with the ministry’s 10-year strategic plan for NCDs, called the National Multisectoral Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non Communicable Diseases 2021-2030.

The survey findings will enable policymakers, health institutes, insurance companies, medical professionals, NGOs, and patient organisations to make informed decisions regarding prevention strategies and targeted interventions.

The survey is expected to continue until March 2024, allowing for comprehensive data collection across all districts in St. Maarten. Despite slow progress during August and October due to holidays and inclement weather, the organisers remain committed to gathering comprehensive data on NCDs and risk factors in St. Maarten.

The findings will be made publicly available for policymakers, health institutes, insurance companies, medical professionals, NGOs, patient organisations, and other stakeholders to inform decision-making and improve public health outcomes.

As the survey progresses towards its target population, additional efforts will be made to ensure accurate representation and gather valuable insights into the prevalence of NCDs and their risk factors in St. Maarten.

For more information about the STEPS Health Survey, please contact the Department of Public Health.

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