On February 26, 2019, during the 30th Inter-sessional Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government Meeting, The UWI Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles and Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Dr. C. James Hospedales signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) formalising a partnership towards improved research and training on public health priorities affecting people in the region. Signalling the importance of the partnership, the signing was witnessed by Secretary-General of the CARICOM, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, and the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, and Chairman of CARICOM.
The UWI and CARPHA have maintained consistent working relationships since CARPHA’s inception in 2013, partnering on various projects including the region’s collective response to major public health threats like Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), climate change and health, as well as the comprehensive Evidence Informed Decision Making Network (EvIDeNCe), a continuously updated repository for Caribbean health research and policy-related documents.
The five-year MoU signals a joint intention to deepen the relationship between The UWI and CARPHA towards the more efficient use of research evidence to inform clinical and health-related policy and practice in CARICOM.
Moving forward, activities incorporated in the MoU will include:
- academic and technical training in public health and related disciplines;
- enhanced research in health and environment sciences;
- expanded regional training offerings and curricula informed by health needs assessments and training and skills audits;
- internal technical capacity building for The UWI and CARPHA staff including formal staff exchanges and student internship programmes;
- joint publications and resource mobilisation.
Commenting on the formalised partnership Vice-Chancellor Beckles stated, “The UWI and CARPHA have enjoyed a long relationship which has been strengthened further through this MoU. As regional institutions we both take very seriously our responsibility to provide solutions to the region’s public health challenges, working towards reversing well-documented health inequities that have plagued Caribbean peoples. Forming the right partnerships is critical to that success so we look forward to continuing our relationship with CARPHA.”
Speaking on behalf of CARPHA, Dr. Hospedales pointed out “This partnership of CARPHA with The UWI packages and brings to light a range of existing beneficial research and training. It provides the base for scale-up of improved health and well-being for all Caribbean people.”
An Overseeing Panel will track the progress of key deliverables under the MoU. The UWI and CARPHA will each have two representatives on the panel with Chairmanship rotating between organisations every two years.