UWI principal: What’s become of Caricom?

(Trinidad Guardian) Prof Clement Sankat, principal of the University of the West Indies (UWI) St Augustine campus, would like to see a more active Caribbean Community (Caricom) in the affairs of the region. Speaking at the project evaluation and exit workshop for the university’s and Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Regional Non-Communicable Diseases Surveillance System, Sankat said: “I am particularly concerned.

For example, we don’t hear the voice of Caricom any more. It seems to just have disappeared. That’s why when I make the comments about regionality and the University of the West Indies, it is because I sense there are no other voices these days and UWI literally stands alone.”

The project evaluation ended a six-year project headed by Prof Surujpal Teelucksingh. One of the results was the development of a web-based retrieval system which would enable medical professionals to gather data on those affected by non-communicable diseases.

These include diabetes, stroke and hypertension and the system will in turn lead to better decision-making among the region’s various ministries of health. The ministries will be responsible for the adoption and implementation of the system.
The project saw regional participation from Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

Chief Medical Officer for T&T Dr Akenath Misir shared Sankat’s call for Guyana to collaborate further with UWI. He said Guyana could be the food basket of the Caribbean. Citing a good diet as central to the fight against non-communicable diseases, Misir said: “To tackle NCDs we have to deal with food, proper nutrition. As far as I am concerned, Guyana should be the food basket of the Caribbean. I don’t see why Guyana cannot be the food basket where you can grow wholesome, healthy foods—no genetically modified food—so we can feed our peoples.”

Misir also said civil engineers needed to do much more to encourage people to walk, such as designing open spaces for walking and recreation, which would encourage exercise which is a vital component in the fight against NCDs.

Among those present were deputy principal of UWI St Augustine, Dr Rhoda Reddock, Chief Medical Officer for Guyana Dr Shamdeo Persaud and country representative, T&T for the IDB, Michelle Cross Fenty. T&T’s Minister of Health Dr Fuad Khan was scheduled to attend but did not, owing to Cabinet commitments. The IDB funded the project to the tune of US$650,000.

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