Training for joint Public Health Survey

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GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – A joint training session commenced on Monday, September 14, 2015 at the University of St. Martin (USM) to train a group of 70 selected persons who have applied for the job as field interviewers for the ‘How Healthy is Sint Maarten/Saint Martin’ public health survey.

The field interviewers who are currently undergoing the training have a medical and social background which would ensure proper data collection. Once they have completed the training, a pilot project will be initiated followed by the big survey that will take place over a six week period.

The training is mainly facilitated by the University of the U.S. Virgin Islands through their collaboration with USM (UVI @ USM).  The training as well as the health survey project is being hosted by representatives from the Dutch and French Government as well as Health Care Professionals that together have initiated the Observatory of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin.

The health survey is a collaborative effort between the Sint Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, and the Collectivite of Saint Martin.

During this training the field interviewers will acquire the skills necessary to conduct the door-to-door interview and physical measurements.

They will receive a certificate of participating in the training and the ones qualified to continue on as an interviewer will then be hired for this purpose. When going out in the field, the interviewers will go to randomly selected households interviewing one adult of the household on the general health status. All interviewers will be fully recognizable as such through t-shirts, and other necessary materials.

The training will end this week with a certification and closing ceremony.

The Health Study preparations, execution, analysis and reporting is a collaborative effort between the Governments of both sides of the island, co-financed by Interreg European Union (EU), and supported by UVI at USM.

The first Sint Maarten health survey was conducted more than 15-years ago (1999) and results released in 2002.  The survey also included the other islands of the former Netherlands Antilles. It gave an overview of the general public’s health status of the community.  A health study of this nature does not exist for French Saint Martin.

The survey will be carried out on both sides of the island at the same time.  Public participation is very important in order for the survey to be a success.

The collaboration of the two sides of the island, in this case, is very important, as it is known that persons reside, work and make use of services on either side of the island. A collaborative study will therefore portray a more realistic picture for both sides of the island and results derived from the study can then better plan and fulfil health care needs of both Governments with respect to their communities.

The initial health study results can be considered outdated due to factors such as population growth, high migration rate, infrastructural change, pollution, etc. It is therefore of high importance to execute a similar study to get a general description of the population’s current (subjective and objective) health status, the factors that affect health, current use of health services and the factors that affect the use of services.

As of the end of September, persons can expect interviewers to come by their home to request their participation. All interviewees are randomly selected, and all interviewers properly trained and dressed in recognizable and identifiable attire.

The interview will also include a physical measurement section whereby parameters such as height, weight, blood pressure, and blood glucose will be measured.

The interviewing will go on into October and potentially the beginning of November.  It is the intention to have the first results of the study made public before the end of the year.

The participation of the public is vital and will ensure the health study objectives being met, with current and accurate health data leading to informed decision making, policy making and programming, which in turn will lead to a generally healthier, and happier population as well as a better collaboration between French and Dutch health care systems.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Training session underway.