St. George’s University and the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) have partnered with a number of other local and international collaborators on a focused initiative for the Caribbean to increase awareness and efforts towards promoting health equity with the recent launch of the Caribbean Center for Health Equity (CCHE).
Determined to realize a vision of a Caribbean free from health inequities, the principal goal of the CCHE is to promote equity among the Caribbean society by reducing the impact of social determinants of health. For many in the region these include being denied access to health care because of deep discrimination, patient blaming, neglect, verbal or physical abuse, and disregard for traditional beliefs. By establishing a regional network of partners focused on promoting health equity, the CCHE will identify priority areas of health inequity across territories in the Caribbean and monitor and evaluate all community-based research programs towards informing sustainable efforts for promoting health equity.
According to the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), persistent inequities across gender, race, and socioeconomic groups in the Caribbean compound every major health challenge facing the region. As inequality continues to be a major barrier to good health, the CCHE will serve as a Center of Excellence in education, research, and service towards addressing the social determinants of health and providing accessible and equitable health care for the Caribbean region.
“Through the education of physicians, veterinarians, and public health, business management, social science, and environmental professionals, SGU contributes towards the capacity building and human resource development to meet the need of addressing health inequities in both developed and developing countries,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of SGU. “Over the past 40 years, SGU has provided over $90 million USD in Caribbean scholarships, and trained over 400 physicians and 70 public health professionals. And many of these students have gone on to live and practice medicine in the region.”
“WINDREF and SGU have been involved over the last 20 years in many applied research projects related to health disparities. The creation of a Caribbean Center for Health Equity, as a program within WINDREF will continue to strengthen and focus these research activities,” added Dr. Calum Macpherson, Director of WINDREF. “The CCHE will serve to coordinate all efforts on the part of WINDREF in addressing challenges towards health equity. It will include a regional network of partner governmental, academic and community-based institutions, related researchers and practitioners, as well as support students in education, research and service work on health equity.”
Founded in 1994, WINDREF is an independent non-profit organization, which promotes health, well being, and sustainable development through multi-disciplinary research, education, and community programs across the Caribbean region. Additionally, WINDREF promotes collaborative relationships between leading internationally recognized scholars and regional scientists, and adheres to the highest ethical and academic standards in the design and conduct of research.
The CCHE will utilize the administrative capability and physical space provided by WINDREF. Additional centers and programs, which currently exist within WINDREF, include the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Regional Collaborating Center (UNFCCC, RCC), Sport for Health, Caribbean Ecohealth, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, Bioethics, and Brain Initiative, among others.