Childhood Health will be the focus of The Caribbean Public Health Agency’s (CARPHA) 58th Annual Research Conference this year, which takes place at the Hilton Barbados Resort from Thursday, May 2, to Saturday May 4.

Conference Chairman and Director of Research at CARPHA, Dr. Donald Simeon, identified childhood obesity in particular as a major cause for concern in the region.

He said that recent surveys had shown a steady increase in overweight and obese children in the Caribbean, adding that the region’s ability to respond to this challenge was important because obesity was the underlying cause of a number of chronic diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure, hypercholesterolemia and cardiovascular diseases, as well as mental health problems. All of these, he noted, placed a financial burden on the health sector.

Dr. Simeon added that the prevalence and mortality rates related to chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs) in the Caribbean were among the highest in the world. In fact, statistics showed that CNCDs, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, accounted for 50 per cent of deaths in the Caribbean, he explained.

The Chairman said that the causes of childhood obesity were largely preventable and were linked to today’s obesogenic environments, which promoted a lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating.

Prior to the start of the Conference there will be a Research to Policy meeting on Childhood Obesity on Wednesday, May 1. Participants include: Chief Medical Officers, health research leaders, educators and other key stakeholders.

In addition, there will also be an awards banquet which remains a key feature of the Annual Research Conference.

This year, it has attracted over 200 participants including health researchers, doctors, nurses, nutritionists, medical students and policy advisors from around the region. Awards will be presented to Professor Rainford Wilks for Outstanding Leadership in Research and Epidemiology in the Caribbean and Professor Celia Christie-Samuels for Outstanding Achievements in the areas of Child Health and HIV Research. There will also be a Young Researcher of the Year Award based on presentations made during the Conference.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency is a merger of five previous regional health institutes, namely the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre, Caribbean Health Research Council, Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute, Caribbean Environmental Health Institute and the Caribbean Research Drug Testing Laboratory.

For further information on the 58th Annual CARPHA Scientific Conference, persons may contact the Conference Secretariat at the Hilton Barbados Resort at 426-0200.


Author: Ministry of Health/Melissa Rollock

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