Objective: Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) are leading threats to health and well-being in the Caribbean. A study was undertaken in the latter part of 2005 to compute the economic burden of diabetes mellitus and hypertension within the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM). This report critiques the quality and availability of health information which can be used to facilitate cost burden analysis of diabetes mellitus and hypertension.
Methods: A form was developed and disseminated to obtain epidemiological and health service utilization data. Subsequent visits were made to seven CARICOM member countries to collect the data.
Results: The results revealed (i) a number of deficiencies in the reliability and validity of the data received, in particular, those needed to facilitate the analysis of cost-specific complications such as ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, chronic renal failure, hypertensive and diabetic retinopathy and peripheral circulatory complications; (ii) data management systems in hospitals were not linked to facilitate generation of cost-effectiveness estimates and other information required to compare options for health investment; (iii) despite repeated attempts by regional governments to develop/strengthen Health Information Systems within the Caribbean, sustainability has been significantly hampered by human, material and financial resource constraints and ongoing monitoring and evaluation is generally poor.
Conclusion: There are deficiencies in the quality and availability of health information to facilitate cost burden analysis of hypertension and diabetes mellitus in the Caribbean. Strong commitment from CARICOM governments will be necessary to address these concerns if economic evaluations are to be undertaken more frequently as part of the effort to reduce the morbidity and mortality from these diseases.