CARPHA Call for Papers for 2014 conference

images-1The Caribbean Public Health Agency has an early call out for its 2014 conference. The theme for 2014 is Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases Through the Life Cycle. There has been an increased focus on the lifespan approach (i.e. from childhood through elderly) to disease prevention and this conference aims to understand how these concepts are incorporated into the Caribbean context. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone conducting longitudinal health communication research to present their findings. The deadline for submission is November 1, 2013. The conference is scheduled for from May 1-3, 2014, in Aruba.

For more information on the conference, go to:

Preventing Chronic Diseases seeks papers for submission

Preventing Chronic Disease (PCD) invites you to submit articles for upcoming publication. There’s been a major push towards preventing chronic diseases across the region. This presents an excellent opportunity for researchers, practitioners  and others public heath professionals working in the Caribbean or with Caribbean populations outside the region.

Papers should promote the open exchange of information and knowledge among researchers, practitioners, policy makers, and others who strive to improve public health through chronic disease prevention.

PCD is a peer-reviewed electronic journal established by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Articles focus on the latest developments in prevention, screening, surveillance, and population-based interventions that prevent and control chronic diseases and conditions, promote health, and examine the biological, behavioral, physical, and social determinants of health and their impact on quality of life, illness, and death across the life span.

Types of article include: original research, community case studies, systematic reviews, essays and others.

To learn more about submitting manuscripts for PCD, visit How to Submit a Manuscript.

Worsening Tobacco Control situation in Jamaica – a concern for the Caribbean‏

The following message came from Debbie Chen and the Heart Foundation of Jamaica. Just as tobacco companies are using every marketing and communication method to increase the uptake of cigarettes and other tobacco produces, we in the public health community have to find innovate ways to counteract their practices.


Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse with the continuing delay of the tobacco legislation here in Jamaica, and the subsequent arrival of a US based “Roll Your Own” (RYO) tobacco company setting up business here with plans to expand in the Caribbean; we now have yet another entrant to the tobacco market to contend with.

This company imports cigarettes from Uruguay called “bama” and states that they are 25 % cheaper than one of their competitor’s brands. They state in the attached news article:

“We will be utilising unique marketing to get bama’s cigarettes out there in the public consciousness. We realise that we are up against entrenched brands but we have a very good product. We will be embarking on a community’s tour which begins on January 20 and goes on until February 29. We will first begin in communities in the corporate areas and will undertake talent shows seeking out the best in these communities. We will be brining the best entertainers on the road with us and will be doing 12 shows in six weeks to heighten brand awareness”

The company have also placed advertisements in the print media (see attached) – something which, by gentleman’s agreement with the leading tobacco company here (Carerras) had not occurred for several years until recently. To make it worse they plan to extend their reach in the Caribbean. They state that they: “plan to expand to St. Lucia through an in bond vehicle”. You may recall the RYO tobacco company also has plans to expand throughout the Caribbean and are actively seeking persons interested in owning a franchise.

The Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control (JCTC) has written to the editor of the several local newspapers about this issue (see attached) and the Ministry of Health are aware of the situation. The only way to stop this scourge from spreading in our respective countries is for the tobacco control legislation to be passed based on the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC). And once the legislation has been passed (as it has been in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago), there has to be monitoring. Non communicable disease is the leading cause of death in our region, and tobacco smoking is a common risk factor for all these illnesses; and it is the most preventable. I would encourage you all at your country level to get involved in tobacco control efforts and speak out against this type of situation which, apart from being a health issue, is also a threat to social and national development.

We will in the very near future be restarting our regional tobacco control network. Some of you will recall that through the InterAmerican Heart Foundation we had a Caribbean Tobacco Control group, which at the time was focused on getting countries to ratify the FCTC. The IAHF Caribbean Office (based here at The Heart Foundation of Jamaica) will restart this “virtual group” in collaboration with the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (based in Barbados). We will establish a Facebook page and an email group. We would then use that medium to keep each other informed about tobacco control issues in our countries. As we see from this situation, what happens in one Caribbean island eventually spreads throughout the region.

Let us work together to fight this deadly industry – remember, it is the only legally available product that when used exactly as the manufacturer intends, kills people. Yes, the task may seem unsurmountable – but I believe the situation would be far worse if we did nothing.


There have been so much negative press about the amount of time people spend online and in virtual environments and the effects on psychological and physiological processes that when a new study comes out espousing the positive qualities of virtual worlds such as Second Life, it has to make news right?

Today, BBC Health is reporting that researchers at Indiana University compared participants in a 12-week weight loss program-one real, one online-and that they lost almost the same around of weight. For the intervention, the researchers recruited overweight and obese people who met four hours a week in either the online or offline environment.

So, how much did the groups lose? The average weight loss was 10 pounds. Healthy for a 12-week program.

“However, when the groups were surveyed on whether their overall behaviour had changed, those using Second Life appeared to have made more changes towards healthy eating and physical activity, suggesting that they might fare better in the future.”

This is a really good step for intervention research in in any world. And I’m sure prevention scientists are also considering this news, especially in light of the finding that those in Second Life experienced overall behavior change.

There has been a move towards tailored health communication and health interventions in the past few years. Beyond the real and the virtual, this article did not report on whether the researchers tailored the interventions to specific needs of different groups. That might have been one of the study’s limitations.

Another limitation is that many of these studies and interventions can–for now–only be done in certain countries. Many of the world’s overweight and obese people are in the developing world. What impact, if any, would a study such as this have on them? Can something similar be done in our region? Do we have enough people visiting online worlds to really put money towards an intervention such as this? What other ways can this be done? Though online community boards where islanders congregate? Would you use Second Life or another virtual environment to help you lose weight?


Highlights of health news from around the region

PANCAP urged to do more to fight disease in region

(Jamaican Observer) — GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — The Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), which ended a two-day meeting here on Wednesday, has been urged to vigorously promote the cause of elimination of HIV as a public health threat in the Caribbean.

Guyana’s Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy, who is also the chair of the PANCAP Executive Board said it was necessary to work towards a trajectory of long, healthy and productive lives for Caribbean citizens.

PANCAP, established in 2001, is the regional mechanism responsible for coordinating the Caribbean’s response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic.

Jamaicans making it difficult for gays to stay with one partner?

(Jamaica Observer) — ONE of the world’s leading bioethics publications, Developing World Bioethics Journal, says Jamaicans are making it difficult for men who have sex with men (MSM) to be monogamous. The publication also suggested that Health Minister Rudyard Spencer is unhappy with the fact that his government “continues to support legislation that contributes significantly to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS among MSM”.

Sport for Health launched in Grenada

(Caribbean News Now) — ST GEORGE’S, Grenada—Principals and sporting ambassadors from each of Grenada’s 22 secondary schools attended the launch of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation’s (WINDREF) Sport for Health Program. 

A collaborative program between WINDREF, St George’s University, the Ministries of Sport and Health, and the Grenada National Olympic Committee, the goal is to help reduce the public health problem of chronic disease by increasing awareness and educating the public about delaying or preventing the onset of chronic disease by leading a healthier lifestyle.

Grenada gets funds for poverty reduction

(The Guardian, Trinidad) — ST GEORGE’S—The United Nations’ rural development agency is to co-finance a US$7.5-million project in Grenada designed to alleviate poverty in the Caribbean country, benefiting an estimated 12,000 members of poor communities on the main island and the isle of Carriacou. The UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide US$3 million in loan to the six-year Market Access and Rural Enterprise Development Programme to create jobs, improve market access and support rural micro-enterprise projects in 50 communities, according to an agreement signed in Rome between the Fund and Grenada’s government.

Ministry of Health hold consultation on strengthening the health system

(Dominica News Online) — The Ministry of Health convened the first in a series of consultations on “Strengthening the Health Systems and Engaging the Private Sector” on Thursday March 31, 2011, at the Garraway Hotel.

Stakeholders from both the Private and Health Sectors participated in the half day consultation to dialogue on priorities for technical assistance in health system strengthening and private sector engagement. They were to provide a rationale for improving the sustainability of HIV/AIDS programming and the health sector, and also to develop a framework for future collaboration between the health and private sectors

Commentary: Poor indoor air quality a potentially explosive health crisis in the Caribbean

(Caribbean News Now) — On the outside the sunny Caribbean is known for its hot balmy weather mediated by cool island breeze, creating a literal tropical paradise. On the inside lurks the real culprit—high humidity and temperatures and the ever present mildew.

Because our building designs, laws, regulations and building codes have not taken into consideration the combination of outdoor and indoor air quality, workers and employers are now forced into an unnecessary standoff. Consequently, the Caribbean is on the verge of a worsening trend of sick building syndrome (SBS) as workers in several islands threaten employers with labour action unless they take serious stock of the poor quality of indoor air in their workplaces.