Formation of Caribbean Public Health Agency Progresses

In response to concerns from Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member governments regarding the efficiency of the existing decentralizedblicy, formerly the 61st President of the World Health Assembly and President of the Pan American Health Organization, announced the agreement reached by the Ministers of Health of the CARICOM nations to create a self-sufficient CARPHA by January 1, 2010. news leslie ramsammy health, and applicable IT systems. The CARPHA will provide leadership in creating effective public health interventions in the Caribbean, as well as adjusting models for various situations. The collective agency will produce an annual report regarding the condition of public health in the Caribbean region. An additional goal is the distribution of accurate, consistent, timely, and relevant public health information to various Caribbean and international audiences public health system, Guyana’s Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, PhD, DSc (Hon), presented a seminar at the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), an independent nonprofit organization located on St. George’s University’s  True Blue campus.   Founded in 1994 with funds granted by the University, WINDREF has been dedicated to advancing health and environmental development in both the Caribbean region and worldwide, and provided a fitting setting for the informative presentation.

As the current chair of the steering committee of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Dr. Ramsammy explained the history and proposed the future role of the institution, which will be constructed in Trinidad.

Dr. Ramsamm

Additionally, five health-related institutions (RHIs) are to be included within the umbrella of the CARPHA. These RHIs are: the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (Trinidad); the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (Jamaica); the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (St. Lucia); the Caribbean Health Research Council (Trinidad);and the Caribbean Regional Drug Testing Laboratory (Jamaica).

There are several objectives that the CARPHA, as outlined by Dr. Ramsammy, would carry out. One such task is to implement crucial research on public health priorities in the Caribbean; another is to manage efficient responses to public health crises in the Caribbean. The program also aims to sustain and organize the development of regional standards and networks related to laboratory practice, other pu

Also visiting the St. George’s University True Blue campus and WINDREF was Dr. Sonia Chehil, MD, FRCPC. Dr. Chehil is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Dalhousie University where she holds a joint faculty appointment with the International Section, as well as the Child and Adolescent Division of the Dalhousie Department of Psychiatry. Within the Department, Dr. Chehil is Director of International Psychiatry and Associate Director of the WHO Collaborating Center in Mental Health.

Through the Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Chehil has been working to promote the strengthening of health system capacity in mental health in the region of the Caribbean for nearly a decade. Dr. Chehil has partnered with PAHO, Health Canada, the Nova Scotia Department of Health, and other Dalhousie University faculties to support Government Ministries of Health in the region in mental health policy development, legislative review, advocacy, training of health personnel, and integrated service development. In 2006, Dr. Chehil was appointed the Mental Health Technical Advisor in Guyana’s Ministry of Health.
Outside of the Caribbean, Dr. Chehil has also participated in a range of mental health technical projects in Qatar, the Gambia, Tanzania, Chile, and Brazil. Dr. Chehil completed an Honors Bachelor of Science degree in Immunology and Neuroscience, and a master’s degree in Educational Psychology prior to beginning medical school at Dalhousie University. Following medical school, she completed her postgraduate medical training in Psychiatry, as well as specialty training in both Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and International Psychiatry. During her visit to St. George’s University, she held discussions with members of the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. Dr. Chehil has just been appointed as a Senior Research Fellow in WINDREF.