Recently St. George’s University’s Director of Research was named to be part of a team created to strengthen and reorient the region’s public health research agenda through the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). Calum NL Macpherson, public health researcher and parasitologist, was named to serve on its Research Advisory Board, a group specifically created to oversee CARPHA’s research mission, review grants awarded by CARPHA, review abstracts and papers for the annual research conference and to help mentor young public health research scientists in the region.
CARPHA will hold its annual conference in Grenada in April 2015 through its local hosts, the Ministry of Health, and the assistance of SGU. The annual conference is preceded by a meeting of all the Chief Medical Officers from throughout the region, so the conference, which was last held in Grenada in 2004, brings together policy makers and public health experts from across the region.
“I am honored by and appreciative of the opportunity to help with the public health research agenda to address the issues facing the region,” Dr. Macpherson said. “Of the three public health priorities listed in the report by the Caribbean Commission on Health and Development, remarkable advances have been achieved against HIV/AIDS and the focus on the non-communicable diseases and obesity must be maintained whereas more research is required on the health and economic burden caused by violence and injuries. The coordination by CARPHA will harness the regional knowledge and resources in an effort to attenuate the numerous existing and potential public health threats.”
Established in 2011, CARPHA combines the functions of the Caribbean’s five Regional Health Institutes – the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI), the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC), the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI), the Caribbean Health Research Council (CHRC), and the Caribbean Regional Drug Testing Laboratory (CRDTL). Headed by Dr. C. James Hospedales, the Chief of Non-Communicable Diseases at Pan-American/World Health Network, CARPHA examines and addresses the breadth of public health issues in the region.
In addition to being the Director of SGU’s affiliated Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), Dr. Macpherson is the University’s Vice Provost for International Program Development. In his time, SGU has become a national and regional leader in public health education and research. In 2013, SGU’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (DPHPM), led by Dr. Omur Cinar Elci, MD, PHD, FRSPH, was named a World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Collaborating Center for Occupational and Environmental Health. Later in the year, WINDREF and the DPHPM were selected by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a Caribbean Regional Collaboration Center, only the third such center in the world. A grant from the Canadian International Development Research Center on the obesogenic environment was recently awarded to the DPHPM and WINDREF, and earlier this year, Dr. Cheryl Cox Macpherson, chair of the Department of Bioethics, and collaborators received a 1.1 million USD grant from the NIH to strengthen the regional capacity in Bioethics.
“These developments provide dynamic and exciting opportunities for partnering with other public health professionals in the region and beyond on some of the major issues, such as obesity, climate change and ethics,” Dr. Macpherson said.
CARPHA’s Deputy Director is Dr Donald T. Simeon (Research Training and Policy Development) and other directors include Dr. Babatunde Olowokure (Surveillance, Disease Prevention, and Control), and Mr. Jenner Caprice (Corporate Services). The headquarters are based in Port of Spain in Trinidad.