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HomeNewsCaribbean NewsSt Lucia releases results of 2019 - 2020 STEPS survey

St Lucia releases results of 2019 – 2020 STEPS survey

  • Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes are the leading cause of illness and death globally.
  • In Saint Lucia, the Epidemiology unit reports that 82 percent of deaths are attributed to these diseases.

By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia, (STEPS/WHO) – The government of Saint Lucia through the Ministry of Health (MOH) released the results of the 2019 – 2020 STEPS survey.

The survey determined the prevalence of common risk factors for Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes are the leading cause of illness and death globally.

NCDs are largely caused by common risk behaviours such as tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diets and the harmful use of alcohol. In Saint Lucia, the Epidemiology unit reports 82 percent of deaths are attributed to these diseases.

On Wednesday, February 14, 2024, officials from the MOH held a stakeholder consultation to officially release the results of the 2019/2020 Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) STEPwise Approach to Noncommunicable Disease Surveillance survey, otherwise known as STEPS.

“The STEPS survey consists of a simple, standardized method for data collection, analysis and dissemination related to chronic diseases and their risk factors. Saint Lucia has now completed two rounds of STEPS, the first in 2012 and most recently in October 2020. The final STEPS results were received by the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs from WHO/PAHO early in 2022. The official final Saint Lucia STEPS report was released in October 2023.” 

“The goal of the STEPS survey was to determine the prevalence of common risk factors for NCDs while exploring demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the population. The 2019/2020 STEPS survey was carried out from December 2019 to October 2020, with the survey being on hold from March to June 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 2,964 Saint Lucians, a representative sample of the Saint Lucian population, were successfully interviewed. This resulted in a 71 percent survey response rate,” reports MOH. Ministry of health officials have highlighted the key findings of the STEPS report which have caused concern, given the association with undesirable NCD outcomes.  Overweight and obesity, a body mass index (BMI) over 25 kg/m2 and 30 kg/m2 respectively, are known to pose significant risks to health.

“The 2020 STEPS results revealed that from a representative sample of the Saint Lucian population aged 18-69 years old, 65 percent were overweight or obese, (50% of the males, and 76.8% of the females) while 46.1 percent of the females and 20.6 percent of the males were obese, BMI>30kg/m2. The percentage of persons surveyed with raised blood pressure was 39.4 percent while those with raised blood pressure who had not been previously diagnosed with hypertension was 37.3 percent (52.8% males and 26% females). 17.1 percent of respondents (13.9% males, 19.5% females) reported insufficient physical activity i.e.150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week. Also concerning was the fact that 83.2 percent of the population interviewed did not meet WHO’s recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption, 5 servings of fruits and/or vegetables a day.”

The percentage of individuals surveyed with three or more risk factors for developing major NCDs (current daily smokers, eating less than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, and engaging in insufficient physical activity, overweight/obese and raised blood pressure) was 35.4% of the survey population (31.3% males, 38.7% females).

The report continued:

“Compared to the findings of the 2012 STEPS results, the prevalence of raised blood pressure has increased, from 27.3 percent in 2012 to 39.4 percent, while that of obesity in general and in men has also increased, 31.9 to 34.9 and 17.1 to 20.6 respectively. The data from STEPS will continue to be used for the development and strengthening of current and future policies and programmes aimed at preventing and managing non-communicable diseases.

“From 2022, the data has been used to support initiatives such as Saint Lucia Moves which was launched in September 2022. The trends in Alcohol and Tobacco use continue to be a cause for concern and results from STEPS will guide the planning and implementation of programmes which can successfully target these risk factors.”

WHO website documents the Saint Lucia STEPs survey.

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