European Dutch Have Longer Life Expectancy Than Caribbean Dutch

In the period 1980-2014, life expectancy in Aruba and Curacao was less favorable than in the Netherlands. This difference was also greater than the differences between other Caribbean islands and their former colonizers. The causes of death were similar on the islands. Especially many cardiovascular diseases and external causes such as murder and traffic accidents caused a lot of death in the Caribbean. This shows recent research by Soraya P.A. Verstraeten, J.A.M. van Oers and Johan P. Mackenbach. They analyzed the death rates and cause of death data of four Western countries and their former colonies in the Caribbean between 1980 and 2014. In the Netherlands they looked at the figures of Aruba and Curacao, in France at Guadeloupe and Martinique, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands for America, and the Lesser British Isles for the United Kingdom. Political status Life expectancy was higher in the Netherlands than on the two largest islands in the Kingdom. It was often thought that this was due to its regional location, but this research shows that there is more to it. However, a comparison within the Caribbean region shows that life expectancy is strongly related to political status: the longest lifespan is observed on islands that are still closely linked politically to their former colonizer, the researchers conclude. According to the results, it is likely that autonomy means that the islands have fewer resources available to combat excess mortality. & Causes of death In addition, the research shows that causes of death were comparable between the islands. This mainly concerns cardiovascular diseases and external causes such as murder and traffic accidents. This may reflect region-specific factors, such as a high prevalence of obesity and related chronic conditions and a strong presence of the international drug and arms trade, the researchers say. But here too the Netherlands Antillean islands seem to be drawing the short straw. Curaçao and Aruba were the only islands where cardiovascular disease rates did not improve significantly. On the other islands, those figures were largely parallel to those of their Western administrators. The differences in external causes of death between the West and the Caribbean increased between 1980 and 2014. But those differences turned out to be greatest for the Kingdom Islands. Curacao and the American Virgin Islands were mainly affected by a sharp increase in the number of murders. In Aruba and the other islands studied, this mainly concerned traffic accidents, but this also turned out to be an important additional cause on Curacao. Collaboration According to researcher Soraya Verstraeten, the research shows how important collaboration is within healthcare. This is also the case during the current corona crisis. The cooperation between the Netherlands and the Caribbean parts was set up almost immediately during a pandemic, but this cooperation is also necessary to improve other health problems, says Verstraeten. Apparently we can do better. In the Netherlands, death rates from cardiovascular disease declined, so we know how to tackle it on the islands. Certainly with a view to the future with a Caribbean reform entity COHO, the findings of the research are important, says Verstraeten. It shows the feasibility of healthcare. A lot of cutbacks have been made in healthcare on the islands, but investments are precisely needed to level the differences with the Netherlands. “For example, investments should be made in disease policy, road safety and the arms trade. But it is not only doom and gloom, says Verstraeten. People on the islands may live shorter lives than in the Netherlands, but if you look at other health factors, life is actually better there. For example, there are fewer depressions than in the Netherlands. is shorter and less healthy, people are apparently happier.

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