Tue | Nov 21, 2017

UWI Tropical Medicine Research Institute renamed - Now Caribbean Institute for Health Research

Published:Wednesday | February 22, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Professor Dale Webber (left), pro vice-chancellor of UWI, Mona; and Professor Susan Walker (second left), director of the newly launched Caribbean Institute for Health Research (CAIHR), stand with Dr Christine Powell, senior lecturer in the Child Development Research Group in the Epidemiology Research Unit; Thalia Lyn (third right), CEO of Island Grill and inaugural CAIHR Award winner; Sharon Howell, senior medical laboratory technician at the Tropical Metabolism Research Unit; and Professor Alafia Samuels, director of the Chronic Disease Research Centre (CRDC), who collected on behalf of Professor Henry Fraser, the founder of the CRDC. The awards were presented at the rebranding ceremony on February 9 at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

The University of the West Indies (UWI) in February unveiled the Caribbean Institute for Health Research (CAIHR), which health professionals and policymakers were familiar with as the Tropical Medicine Research Institute (TMRI).

"TMRI has an excellent record in conducting world-class research that addresses regional and global health priorities," said Professor Susan Walker, director of CAIHR, which operates under the Office of the Vice-Chancellor. "CAIHR will build on this and expand our work on effective health interventions."

The entity's mandate, originally established on October 1, 1999, was to increase the output of research in the major areas affecting the health of people across the region. It continues to execute this mandate through its four constituent units: The Chronic Disease Research Centre (CDRC) at UWI, Cave Hill, and the other three at UWI, Mona the Epidemiology Research Unit (ERU); the Sickle Cell Unit (SCU); and the Tropical Metabolism Research Unit.

 

INFLUENCING POLICY

 

Over the decades, the CAIHR staff, many of whom have won university, national and international awards, have participated in landmark and groundbreaking research that has informed and influenced many policies and processes not just regionally, but across the world.

Research findings have led to the shaping of treatment guidelines for sickle cell anaemia and childhood malnutrition. Two examples of policies informed by the research are Jamaica's School Feeding Programme, and the National Health Fund.

The 'Reach Up Training Package', which was created by the ERU, is used in Brazil, Zimbabwe, Guatemala, and has influenced programmes as far as Bangladesh, India and China.

"This name change signifies a re-intensification of focus", said Professor Marvin Reid, acting director of the institute. "We plan to not only build on our successes to date, but are exploring new relationships and new ways of making our services available to the public."

One of these early endeavours saw an inaugural CAIHR award being bestowed on local fast-food chain Island Grill at the rebranding function.

"Island Grill has demonstrated through its actions and activities in 2016 that, it too, shares our vision of improvement in the health of Caribbean peoples," said Reid. "It has adjusted its menu to provide healthier cuisine and to give caloric counts of its meals so customers can make informed decisions. It has also moved to the use of more environmentally-friendly meal packaging."