Sun | Dec 10, 2023

Mental health researchers to study Alzheimer’s disease in Caribbean peoples

Jamaica one of seven select flagship pilot programmes of the Global Davos Alzheimer’s collaborative

Published:Friday | February 17, 2023 | 12:14 AM

THE JAMAICA Mental Health Advocacy Network (JAMHAN) and the Caribbean Institute for Health Research (CAIHR) at The University of the West Indies, Mona, have launched a flagship study for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease in Caribbean peoples. The Jamaica Flagship programme is part of the Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative (DAC), a public-private alliance uniting organisations worldwide to build an innovation ecosystem that will accelerate breakthroughs, develop and scale promising solutions, and equip healthcare systems to end Alzheimer’s disease.

The Jamaica Flagship focuses on people 60 years old and older without a prior diagnosis of dementia, and who are patients in primary private practices in Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine, and those able to travel to these parishes to complete a digital cognitive assessment. Individuals with suspected cognitive decline based on the digital cognitive assessment are offered a blood-based biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease in addition to customary follow-up testing.

Jamaica’s principal investigator, Dr Ishtar Govia, managing director at JAMHAN and senior lecturer in epidemiology at CAIHR, noted, “We are collecting the data we need to be able to advocate for more permanent change. Early adopter medical practices and community partners such as churches and community organisations will help us understand what is needed for scaling these innovations across Jamaica and the Caribbean.”

Working closely with global, regional and local agencies, civil society and professional organisations, the Jamaica Flagship will also build out Jamaica and Caribbean specific standard of care guidelines for the detection, diagnosis, and management of dementia.

Agencies and partners include the Caribbean College of Family Physicians, the Association of General Practitioners, the Caribbean Alliance of National Psychological Associations, the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, The Jamaican Psychological Society, The Jamaica Psychiatric Association, Kiwanis Foundation of Jamaica, the Lion’s Club of Downtown Kingston, the MINT Memory Clinic, and the Women’s Brain Project.

Jamaica will use Linus Health’s Core Cognitive Evaluation, which marks a significant technological advance over paper and pencil cognitive assessments in terms of objectivity and actionability, and reduces the need for broad neuropsychological testing, which is time consuming for patients and requires expensive and often-difficult-to-access specialised providers for administration. The Core Cognitive Evaluation is completely iPad-based and combines a next generation digital assessment with a lifestyle-based patient questionnaire to generate actionable insights for providers and patients.

“Linus Health is honoured that the Jamaica team selected us as a partner in their work with the Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative to accelerate early detection of Alzheimer’s disease,” said David Bates of Linus Health. “Identifying early signs of cognitive impairment is a critical first step in these efforts and digital cognitive assessments make that more feasible. We’re excited that our solution will now be accessible to people across Jamaica,” he added.

“The Jamaica team is pioneering providing better treatment today for Alzheimer’s patients and paving the way for new treatments in the future,” said George Vradenburg, founding chairman of the board.

Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative, and convener of The Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Disease. “Jamaica’s Flagship medical professionals will utilise cutting-edge technology to change the way we deliver care and help prepare healthcare systems to get the right treatments to the right patients at every stage of the disease.” The Jamaica Flagship programme will not only change the face of Alzheimer’s disease in the Caribbean and the Americas, the team will also play a key role in sharing best practices and developing models for broader healthcare systems that can be scaled globally through DAC Learning Labs, a network of governments, public health and healthcare system leaders.

For more information or to learn how to participate in this initiative, email or call (876) 428-2474 or (876) 453-9133.