One Health Leadership in the Caribbean
The “One Health, One Caribbean, One Love” project was implemented by the University of the West Indies (UWI) with collaborating partners such as the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) and World Health Organisation (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and the Ministries of Agriculture of Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis and Grenada. It was funded through the European Union (EU) from the ACP Science and Technology Programme (S&T II), and was supported by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund – Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Project, executed by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).
Four (4) Modules addressing “An introduction to One Health; Interconnectivity for Food Security and Safety; Environment and Health and Society and Health” formed the core of the training activities held in Tobago, Jamaica, Guyana and Grenada respectively.
The One Health project brought together sixty (60) participants from twelve (12) Caribbean countries for the fifth and final module of the One Health Leadership series entitled ‘The Way Forward for One Health in the Caribbean’ at the Kapok Hotel, Trinidad from November 30 to December 1, 2016. The workshop’s focus was to discuss a shared vision for One Health, review a draft regional One Health strategic framework and identify strategies to sustain a One Health community of practice beyond the One Health, One Caribbean, One Love Project. The workshop marked the end of a two-year collaborative, results-based One Health leadership training series, which was launched in November 2014. This Series was facilitated by Dr. Roderick King of the Florida Institute for Health Innovation, and by Professor Craig Stephen of the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative.
Module 5 of the One Health leadership series gave an opportunity to 29 One Health Leaders from twelve (12) Caribbean countries, who were trained during the two (2) years One Health Leadership Series, to share lessons learnt and best practices discovered through the implementation of One Health country projects with other participants present.
The twelve (12) national teams presented their One Health Projects and outcomes related to three (3) themes: 1) food security and food safety; 2) environment and health; and 3) society and health. Projects included collecting baseline information on heavy metals in fish (Trinidad and Tobago), mobile aquaponics to combat mercury accumulation in fish (Suriname), antimicrobial resistance and residues (Barbados), reduction of pesticides (Haiti), managing invasive species – lionfish (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) and giant African snail (Antigua and Barbuda), childhood obesity (Grenada), addressing iron deficiency anemia (Dominica), rabies outreach (Belize), solid waste management (Guyana) and sustainable river-edge farming (Jamaica).
Participants also benefited from various regional and international experts in One Health including Dr. Lisa Conti, Deputy Commissioner and Chief Science Officer of Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services , Dr. Alafia Samuels, Deputy Dean, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Cavehill, Barbados & Director, Chronic Disease Research Centre, Caribbean Institute for Health Research, Eng. Adrianus Ton Vlugman, Senior Advisor, Water, Sanitation Environmental Health, PAHO/WHO and Mr. Richard Francois, Strategic Advisor to the Minister within Ministry of Public Health, Guyana.
The event hosted senior professionals from medical, agricultural and environmental fields and regional tertiary academic institutions including UWI’s Mona, Cavehill and St. Augustine campuses, Ross and St. George’s Universities. Participants worked together to brainstorm feasible solutions to sustain a One Health community of practice in the countries and at a regional level.
They shared feedback on the draft One Health strategic framework, emphasized synergies between existing programmes and initiatives (Adaptation to Climate Change, CCHIV and Health Environments-Healthy People and One Health for the Caribbean). They shared opportunities for funding, partnerships, grants, and regional agencies pledged support for sustaining One Health initiatives in the future. Key themes across presentations and discussions were the need for change agents, building relationships outside the group’s comfort zones, and that leadership for trans-disciplinary work is challenging but critical to the region.
The One Health Leadership Series concluded with a Closing Ceremony with remarks from funders (EU and IICA) and the One Health project partners. The highlights of the ceremony were the presentation of certificates of achievement to participants who completed the One Health Leadership Series and the launch of a ListenMi Feature on One Health by Bay-C. Bay-C, the bass vocalist from platinum-selling Jamaican dancehall/reggae quartet, TOK, is One Health’s Celebrity Patron. ListenMi news is a creative way in which Bay-C uses his musical influence to create awareness about issues of global concern which are sometimes overlooked. ListenMi has previously done political pieces, as well as segments on educating the public about avoiding infections with Zika and Chikungunya (Chik-V) viruses.
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