Prof Celia Christie-Samuels
Driving knowledge in health
J amaica’s COVID-19 response got a shot in the arm, thanks to Professor Celia Christie-Samuels. A professor of paediatrics (infectious diseases, epidemiology and public health) at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus, and senior consultant paediatrician at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), two studies in which Christie-Samuels was involved enabled improved clinical identification and development of best practices for COVID-19 in children and adults admitted at UHWI. They also contributed to national policy in Jamaica and the global health knowledge.
Christie-Samuels’ collaboration with Dr Varough Deyde and colleagues within the United States Embassy of Jamaica, the Caribbean Regional and International offices of the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and the UHWI enabled descriptions of the outcomes of COVID-19 in children and adults hospitalised at the hospital.
Dr Crista-Lee Berry presented these results at the American Academic of Paediatrics Annual International Conference in the United States, while Dr Tamara Thompson presented at the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ Annual Research Conference in Jamaica.
One of the studies, ‘Clinical Features and Outcomes Among Hospitalised Children with SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Kingston, Jamaica: A Retrospective Cohort Study’, reported that seventy-nine children with COVID-19 aged 16 years presented to the UHWI in the first 15 months of the pandemic.
Forty-one of those children were hospitalised, their median age was 10.5 years, and the remainder had community exposure. Asthma and sickle cell disease were the most common underlying diseases.
The second report: ‘Clinical Features And Outcomes Among Hospitalised Adults with SARS-COV-2 Infection In Kingston, Jamaica: A Retrospective Cohort Study’, described the demographic and clinical characteristics, indicators of poor outcomes among hospitalised adults with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV-2) infected patients in Jamaica.
The analyses included 362 participants (218 males; 144 females); the mean age was 59.5 years among males and 55.7 years among females. Pre-existing hypertension, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, obesity and chronic kidney disease were the most commonly reported comorbidities. Cough, shortness of breath, fever and malaise were the most common presenting symptoms.
Having completed postdoctoral studies in the United States at the Yale and Johns Hopkins universities, Dr Christie-Samuels worked for several years at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre, the University of Cincinnati and the United States Food and Drug Administration before returning to the UWI in Jamaica. She joined the UWI and UHWI in 1999, where prior to COVID-19, she worked in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Wellness Jamaica to reduce perinatal HIV/AIDS transmission and established the national Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission programme. Her work in HIV has gained international recognition. She has also worked with the regional Zika Task.
Dr Christie-Samuels has received numerous awards for her work, including the International Leadership Award from the Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation, the Excellence in Science Inaugural Stephen Preblud Award from the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in 2002, the UWI’s Vice Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence in 2008 and the Gold Medal for Eminence in Research from the Board of Governors of the Institute of Jamaica in 2014.
She was also conferred with an Order of Distinction in the rank of commander for her outstanding contribution to public service and child health.