Ferguson, T. S.; Tulloch-Reid, M. K.; Gordon-Strachan, G.; Hamilton, P.; Wilks, R. J.
Author Affiliation, Ana.
National health surveys and health policy: Impact of the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Surveys and the Reproductive Health Surveys
West Indian Medical Journal
Date of Publication
Over the last six decades, comprehensive national health surveys have become important data-gathering mechanisms to inform countries on their health status and provide information for health policy and programme planning. Developing countries have only recently begun such surveys and Jamaica has been at the forefront of this effort. Jamaica's Reproductive Health Surveys and programme response to their findings have resulted in an almost 50% reduction in fertility rates over three decades as well as a 40% reduction in unmet contraceptive needs and a 40% reduction in unplanned preg-nancies over the last two decades. The Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Surveys have served to reinforce the major burden that non-communicable diseases place on the society and the extent to which these are driven by unhealthy lifestyles. These surveys have shown that obesity, hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidaemia affect approximately 50%, 25%, 10% and 10% of the adult population, respectively. These surveys have documented low rates of treatment and control for these chronic non-communicable diseases despite two major policy initiatives, the National Programme for the Promotion of Healthy Lifestyles and the creation of the National Health Fund which subsidizes healthcare provision for chronic diseases. In order to maximize the uptake of the findings of future surveys into effective health policy, there will need to be effective collaborations between academia, policy-makers, regional and international health agencies, non-government organizations and civil society. Such collaborations should take into account the social, political and economic issues, thus ensuring a more comprehensive approach to health policy and result in improvement of the nation's health status and by extension national development.....