ISSN: 0041-3216 (Online), 0041-3216 (Print)
Volume 89 Number 4
Socioeconomic and environmental factors influencing health status of Caribbean and Central American countries. (258)
Health improvements have been noted in Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) countries in the past three decades. Changes have been attributed to improved nutrition and a decline in infectious diseases. However, few studies have attempted to quantify the factors influencing health status in Central American and Caribbean (CAC) countries. In this study, we develop a health production function for 21 CAC countries using panel data. We estimate Ordinary Least Squares (OLS), random and fixed effects models to determine the factors affecting health status. Tests for country effects resulted in a choice of the random effects model. Food availability (kcal/capita/day), protein supply, food imports per capita, income per capita, education, and clean water availability interacted with sanitation, positively influenced health status, whereas GDP per capita squared and mortality rate per 1,000 through ischemic heart diseases negatively influenced health status. An increase in the number of newly registered AIDS cases improved the health status of a country. This is possible since when people are diagnosed with AIDS they are counseled about how to prevent further spread of HIV. Health policymakers must critically examine these results to determine optimal points of socioeconomic and environmental variable contributions to promote health status in these countries.
Keywords: Health status, Caribbean and Central America