Health policy performance in 16 Caribbean states, 2010–2015

Soraya P. A. Verstraeten*, Hans A. M. Van Oers, Johan P. Mackenbach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review



To determine whether Caribbean states vary in health policy performance in 11 different areas; to explore the association with sociodemographic, economical, and governance determinants; and to estimate the potential health gains of “best-practice” health policies.


We selected 50 indicators that included data on mortality (latest available, 2010–2015), intermediate outcomes, and policy implementation to calculate a state’s health policy performance score. We related this score to country characteristics and calculated the potential number of avoidable deaths if the age-specific mortality rates of best-performer Martinique applied in all states.


We found large differences in health policy performance among Caribbean states. Martinique, Cuba, and Guadeloupe had the highest performance scores, and Guyana, Belize, and Suriname the lowest. Political affiliation, religious fractionalization, corruption, national income, and population density were associated with health policy performance. If the mortality rates of Martinique applied to all Caribbean states, an overall mortality reduction of 12% would be achieved.


Differences in health outcomes between Caribbean states are partly attributable to variations in health policy implementation. Our results suggest that many deaths can be prevented if Caribbean governments adopt best-practice policies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-632
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Caribbean Region
  • Developing Countries
  • Health Plan Implementation/statistics & numerical data
  • Health Policy/economics
  • Humans
  • Mortality/trends
  • Population Density
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic/standards
  • Socioeconomic Factors


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