CARPHA Conference Highlights Research and Findings Relevant to Caribbean Policymakers
More than 200 delegates, comprising researchers, policymakers nutritionists, epidemiologists, and other key health stakeholders from the Region and beyond gathered at St George’s University, Grenada, marking the 60th Diamond Jubilee of the CARPHA Annual Health Research Conference. For the first time more than 50 students registered for the conference.
Under the theme "Violence and Injury Prevention: an Urgent Public Health and Development Issue” over 170 papers were presented on public health issues and findings that are relevant for government bodies and policy makers.
In addition to the record number of papers, feature lectures were presented by distinguished scientists addressing research and critical health issues, in particular violence and injury prevention early childhood interventions to improve development; managing gynaecological cancers in the Region; and the impact of climate change on diseases spread by mosquitoes.
Conference Chairman and Director of Research at CARPHA, Dr. Donald T. Simeon said “one of the more important roles of the Conference is building research capacity, and that almost all the many eminently successful health researchers that the Caribbean has produced received training through their attendance at the Annual Conference.”
In addition to scholarly research presentations by Caribbean and international academic community, a number of workshops and meetings took place prior to the Conference. During the Annual Meeting of Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) hosted by CARICOM, delegates examined public health matters such as Chikungunya which greatly impact the Member States. Non communicable diseases, HIV, and other communicable diseases were discussed. The meeting also focused on health policies and programming, partnerships with CARPHA. CMOs also attended the Conference which informed them of current research findings that can guide their program and policy development, thus ensuring that their actions were evidence based.
Other meetings included a Workshop on Use of Evidence to Inform the Development of Health Policy at which CARPHA launched an initiative called the Evidence Informed Decision Making Network of the Caribbean (EvIDeNCe). Through this network, regional policy makers will have access to credible and relevant events to support decision making. Participants from CARPHA Member States were introduced to key data processing and analysis using Epi Info™ 7 during a Data Analysis Workshop.
The evening of June 24th focused on men’s health, when CARPHA hosted a Town Hall meeting in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, St. George’s University and the Gouyave Improve Committee. Entitled Men, Improve Your Performance, the meeting’s objective was to drive home the importance of men’s health and overall performance. The presentation looked at a holistic approach to men’s health and touched on all areas of sex and sexual dysfunction, exercise, diet, STDs, cancers, smoking.
For the first time, a youth component was added to the Conference. Bullying in Schools: What is the Big Deal? provided secondary school students with an opportunity to discuss violence in schools and offer solutions.
The highlight of the conference was the hosting of the annual awards banquet at which three outstanding Caribbean health research scientists were presented with awards in recognition of their exemplary contributions to the health of the Caribbean peoples. The recipients were Prof Susan Walker – University of the West Indies Mona Jamaica, for her contribution in the area of Child Health and Nutrition Research; Prof Horace Fletcher – UWI Mona, Jamaica, for his contribution in the area of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research; and Prof Dave Chadee – UWI St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago for his contribution in the area of Public Health Research including Epidemiology and Vector Control.
The CARPHA Annual Health Research Conference is also the longest running health research meeting in Latin America and the Caribbean. ‘Celebrating 60 Years of Research’ published by CARPHA, documents the evolution of the conference. It also highlights the reflections of over 20 persons who were involved in its planning and hosting since 1956. The Conference agenda and abstracts of papers presented at the conference have been published in a Special Issue of the West Indian Medical Journal.