Research on the Caribbean

ZonMw strives to realise good health for everybody, including people for whom good health is not easily attainable. And that also applies to people who live in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

We fund health research, encourage the use of the knowledge developed and define the areas for which more knowledge is needed. The difference in health between the population of the Caribbean and the Dutch population is currently greater than we would like, and we need [JTK1] more resources to improve societal health in the Caribbean. For this reason, we are conducting a foresight study to examine how ZonMw might contribute to this.

Possibilities for research in the Caribbean part of the Netherlands

At present, not all islands in the Caribbean part of the Netherlands can apply for grants within the ZonMw programmes. The Caribbean part of the Netherlands consists of the BES islands and the CAS islands. The BES islands – Bonaire, St-Eustatius and Saba - are special municipalities of the Netherlands and applicants located there can apply to ZonMw for a grant for health research. They must also satisfy the other funding conditions, of course. However, residents of the CAS islands – Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten – cannot apply for ZonMw funding. That is because our granting conditions state that 'only public or private legal entities located in the Netherlands' may submit an application. Therefore, from a legal perspective, residents of the CAS islands are not eligible for funding from ZonMw. Exceptions to this are the programmes that collaborate with or are funded by NWO.

Health gain

From experience acquired from projects funded in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, it has become clear that health gains can be achieved with research and by implementing effective outcomes in practice. We therefore want to make the ZonMw programmes more accessible for the entire Caribbean so that they can improve their approach and societal support. For example, with policy, activities and measures that are directly focused on protecting and improving the health of the population. There seems to be support for this from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. They have asked us to investigate what is necessary for this and we are doing that by means of a foresight study.

Health issues on the Caribbean islands

The foresight study for programming possibilities for health research in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands mainly consists of collecting information. We are examining the current knowledge and research level as well as the societal issues that play a role on the islands. This is being done, for example, via surveys and in-person discussion sessions. The results from the foresight study will be used to determine how we can deploy our programming to contribute to a good health on the islands.

We interviewed Soraya Verstraeten, the foresight study's project leader.

Interview with Soraya Verstraeten

Exploring health research programming in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

The report ‘Exploring health research programming in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands' of the exploratory research process provides valuable insights into the health challenges on the ABCSSS islands. The report indicates that specific attention is needed for themes such as mental health, chronic diseases, sexual health and the organization of care. The exploratory research process shows that there are significant differences in health outcomes and in accessibility to (health)care on the islands. Moreover, there is an urgent need for targeted interventions and research to improve the health and well-being of islanders. Read the full report of the exploratory research process in the document below.

The full report of the exploratory research process

More information

For questions or additional information, please contact the Caribbean team via cariben@zonmw.nl. Please also visit the overview of the projects currently funded in the Caribbean region.