Research Vital To Improving Health

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Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Maria Boyce (right), presenting the second prize for "Best Original Research Paper" to?? Dr. Natatsha Sobers-Grannum of the Ministry of Health for her paper on?? "Case Series of H1N1 Cases in Barbados and the Potential Impact of The Virus On Our Health Care Facilities".

"Health research is a vital part of an effort to bring about improved health status of the population."

This was the key message issued to participants at the close of the Ninth Professor E.R. Walrond Symposium that was held last week at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s (QEH) Auditorium.

Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Kenneth George, in addressing the topic "The Importance of Research for Public Health Development", said the subject of research for public health development was very topical at this time given recent challenges with public health events, including the emergence of influenza A (H1N1) 2009.

"As we engage in the process of reviewing global progress towards managing this pandemic, the issue of research, monitoring and evaluation are coming out as critical in assessing the success of our interventions," he stated.

Explaining that the role of public health had also been elevated to a place of prominence given global events such as SARS, bio-terrorism and now novel Influenza A (H1N1), Dr. George noted: "The data gathered from the outbreak of SARS in 2005 helped the world to some extent prepare for this current pandemic. The experience galvanised the revision of the International Health Regulations in 2005."

He added that these new regulations required countries to notify the World Health Organisation (WHO) of all events that may constitute a public health emergency of international concern.??

The Acting CMO, however, pointed out that even with the lessons learnt on the importance of research in public health interventions, WHO had highlighted significant challenges "with respect to investment into research on diseases that are the main contributors to the burden of disease in the world." ??

And, it was further contended that the developing countries bore the brunt of fighting global diseases where investment for health research remained focused on diseases that affected communities in highly industrialised regions.

Dr. George stressed: "This is why developing countries need to prioritise research as it relates to their own setting.?? Developing countries, like ours, are cognisant of the fact that we need to maximise resources at a time when national budgets are constrained.?? We are challenged by the demands of high cost of health requirements and we are challenged to be creative in reducing the burden of disease in our society.

"At the same time, we are faced with the challenge of other health conditions that are neglected internationally, in terms of research, such as tuberculosis, asthma, hypertension and nutritional deficiencies, (including obesity)."

The Professor E.R. Walrond Symposium has, since its inception in July 2001, developed a vibrant culture for research among medical students, residents, nurses and paramedical staff of the QEH, the polyclinics and the Chronic Disease Research Centre of the UWI.?? At the close, of the Symposium, four participants were awarded for "Best Original Research Paper".

The first-place winner was Dr. Jo-Anne Brathwaite-Drummond, Department of Psychiatry at the QEH for "Geriatric Depression Study". Second place was a tie between Dr. Alan Smith of the Department of Cardiac Services, QEH and Dr. Natasha Sobers-Grannum of the Ministry of Health/UWI for "Cardiac Surgery in QEH Barbados: 10 Year Audit" and "Case Series of H1N1 Cases In Barbados and The Potential Impact of The Virus On Our Health Care Facilities", respectively. Dr. Badhok of Trinidad won the third prize for "Perioperative Outcome of Colorectal Cancer in Trinidad".

jgill@barbados.gov.bb

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