Nov. 1 deadline to apply for CHRC conference

The Caribbean Health Research Conference is the premier public health and medical conference in the Caribbean region.

The 2013 conference will be a special focus on Child Health. However papers will be accepted on research in all health areas. Papers are selected based on scientific merit and relevance to the priority health areas of the Caribbean. The CHRC conference will be held May 2nd-4th 2013 in Barbados.

Information on the call for papers can be found by going to here:

UTech (Jamaica) public health conference, June 7-10

The University of Technology (UTech) School of Public Health and Health Technology (SPHHT) will host it’s Second International Public Health Conference from June 7-10 under the theme ‘Public Health Challenges – Its impact on Jamaica, the Caribbean and the World – Are we prepared?’

This conference mounted by the SPHHT will examine current challenges being faced within Jamaica’s public health system that is charged with protecting and promoting the health and well-being of the public. Participants will be drawn from the public-health sector in Jamaica, the medical and academic fraternities, the public sector, private corporations and the general public. Invitations have also been issued to key persons in the public-health system in the Caribbean to attend and contribute to the discourse. It is anticipated that there will be some 200 participants from Jamaica and the Caribbean at the event.

The conference will open on Thursday, June 7, at 6 p.m. with a public lecture presented by Professor Sir George Alleyne, Chancellor of the University of the West Indies who will speak on the topic: ‘Public Health Challenges and Primary Health Care’. The conference will be officially opened by Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson on Friday, June 8, at 9 a.m and will be held at the Wyndham hotel in St. Andrew, Jamaica.

Source: Jamaica Gleaner


CARIMAC students’ #Dntxtndrive Campaign 2012

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The Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) Social Marketing class 2012 this year for their final year project focused their energy on a campaign against texting and driving. Despite the lack of local empirical evidence to support the choice of the campaign, it was duly justified based on emerging evidence and policy regionally and worldwide. Trinidad and Tobago, for example has implemented a law against the use of cellular telephones while on the roads from as early as February 2011. The law states:

“No person shall drive or have charge of a motor vehicle on any road while holding or using a hand-held mobile device.”


“No person shall use a wireless communication device to view, send or compose an electronic message while driving or having charge of a vehicle.”

Breach of this regulation renders a person liable to a fine of $1,500 or three months imprisonment.

The campaign by the social marketing group therefore rightly claims to be proactive in calling attention to this issue in Jamaica. They launched a campaign aimed at heightening awareness and behaviour change (less texting and driving) targeted at students of the University of the West Indies (UWI). The campaign recently ended but there were a number of innovative ideas employed by the students in order to communicated their message.

1. The Chalkwalk

The students drew large images of their campaign logo and slogan #dntxtndrive using chalk. This was not only interesting for passers by after completion, but stimulated interaction with onlookers about the campaign message while the drawing took place.

2. The Walkabout

The students used a steering wheel to dramatically walk around the campus, bumping into people as they passed as a conversation starter about texting and driving.

3. The Flash Mob

A group of dancers partners partnered with the social marketing team to do a flashmob which would highlight the message to onlookers.

And there were other great activities as well including a window wash/wipe event in the university car park and a campaign song. I was impressed by the creativity and work put in by the class to attempt a successful campaign.

But, was the campaign successful? The evaluation suggested that there was only a 13% adaption of the behaviour (the target was 20%). The students have argued, however, that the campaign was implemented in less than 6 months and changing behaviour is a long term activity. Also, 13% is still a positive indicator (the campaign certainly did not cause the behaviour to change in a negative way).

This is a viable argument, however one cannot help but wonder if the students should have even tackled behaviour change to begin with, given the limited time for the campaign. Awareness raising and advocacy could have been a sufficient goal for the time frame. Also, there is the question of whether the University was the best place to target the campaign. How many UWI students drive and was the campaign targeted enough specifically at drivers on the campus?

On Monday, May 14 2012, the day after the evaluation presentation of the campaign by the students the Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Omar Davies announced that persons who use mobile phones while driving will soon face fines, with the promulgation of new legislation by the end of 2012, which will make the practise illegal (view article). This cannot necessarily be directly attributed to the students’ campaign (unless Mr. Davies confirms :)) but it may have been influenced by the campaign. As such, a hearty congratulations to the students for raising awareness of this issue inside and outside of the walls of the University!

View the students’ presentation here.

The voice and experience of the Caribbean Islands towards sustainable development

DE Seminar Series towards Rio+20
Sustainable Development and Environmental Health – SDE – PAHO/WHO

The voice and experience of the Caribbean Islands towards sustainable

Ninth Seminar: 4 April 2012 – PAHO/WHO Rio+20

Time: 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm – Eastern Standard Time (Washington DC USA)

To check local time in WDC against your time zone, see the World Clock

Website PAHO/WHO Rio+20 at: <>

“The picture of the Caribbean as an idyllic paradise is an appropriate
one for promoting the area to the outside world and one that most
nationals in the diaspora retain with fondness and nostalgia. The
physical attributes often shown are real, but they sometimes hide the
struggle that many citizens must make to acquire the necessities for a
decent living against the background of the reality”.

(From Report of the Caribbean commission on health and development,

We all know that a healthy population is an essential prerequisite for
economic growth and stability of the Caribbean and we recall the Nassau
Declaration (2001), which underscored the importance of health to
development which states that “Health of a Nation is the wealth of a

Additionally challenges specific to the Caribbean and Small Island
States call for a constant attention to preserving the gains made
through sustainable development. In the Caribbean, specific
vulnerabilities exist such as size (while the problems are not less than
in larger countries, the opportunities from economies of scale are not
there) and fragility of the economic base, with tourism being the main
source of income and employment in most of the islands. Furthermore,
potential outbreaks, emerging and reemerging infectious diseases, and
natural hazards such as hurricanes, now aggravated by the impact of
climate change, are accentuating the vulnerability for the Region.

Sustainable tourism -tourism attempting to make a low impact on the
environment and local culture, while helping to generate future
employment for local people and aiming to ensure that development brings
a positive experience for local people, tourism companies and the
tourists themselves- is an imperative for the Caribbean countries. Any
ecological or environmental crisis, be it an oil spill, a cholera
outbreak or a leak of pesticides, can have a devastating effect for the
environment, the inhabitants of the islands and the economy.

Finally, the speed of demographic transition in the Caribbean is
unprecedented. By 2030, in many countries in the Caribbean the number of
persons aged 60 or over will be 2.5 to 3.5 times as large as it was in
2000. As things stand, for the next three to five decades the speed of
ageing in the region will continue on a singularly rapid course, a
result of the momentum of demographic forces set in motion long ago. The
other aspect of demographic transition is the rapid decline of fertility
rates which leads to a decrease in the younger population and a trend
towards an increased population of older age groups. This phenomenon is
further aggravated by the migration dynamics within and outside the
region and will have major implications for pension schemes and social
protection interventions among others.

The Caribbean has often been in the forefront in leading innovative and
important processes, as recently proven again when the Region was
operational in motivating the High Level UN NCD summit. It is now time
to examine where the Caribbean health movement stands when it comes to
sustainable development in the light of the Rio+20 Summit.


12:00    Welcome and introduction: Gerry Eijkemans, PAHO/WHO
Representative in The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos

12:05    The experience of the Caribbean in the lead up to Rio+20 and
the involvement of health; Looking back and looking forward:
Henriette Elizabeth Thompson, Executive Coordinator for Rio+20

12:20    Comments

Patrick Martin, Chief Medical Officer, St Kitts and Nevis

Hugh Sealy, St George’s University

Rudy Cummings, Head of Health Desk, CARICOM

12:35    Questions and Answers

1:00      Closing remarks and conclusions.

Moderator: Gerry Eijkemans, PAHO/WHO Representative in The Bahamas and
Turks and Caicos

How to participate:

In person:
525 23rd ST NW
Washington DC, 20037 Room 812 – 12h to 13h Eastern Time (WDC)

Online: via Elluminate link:

– Spanish room:

– English room

SDE Seminar Series towards Rio+20

“Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development.

They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with
nature” – Principle 1 of the Rio…..” Declaration on Environment and
Development, 1992.

The Rio Declaration of 1992 recognizes that healthy populations are
central to human progress and sustainable development, and remains
equally true today. However, the economic pillar has been prioritized at
the expense of the social and environmental pillars of sustainable
development over the last few decades, becoming itself a source of
volatility and destabilization.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, now
offers an opportunity to re-examine the relationship between health and
sustainable development. The proposed SDE Seminar series towards Rio+20
aim at contributing to this important debate by bringing different
themes of relevance to sustainable development and health to inform all
areas of the Pan American Organization about the themes under discussion
in the Rio Conference, but also to inform public health stakeholders and
other decision makers in the health sector, to better take part in the

The SDE Seminar series will happen every Wednesday   from 12 to 1pm
(Washington time), from February 8 to June 13th.

All Seminars will be life-streamed, and opened for participation in
person at the PAHO/WHO HQ, or via Elluminate.
Some of the Seminars will be in English, others in Spanish.

For those who cannot follow the seminar alive, they will be available
later at PAHO Rio+20 Toolkit at:

Twitter <>

Short Bio participants

Ms. H. Elizabeth Thompson, a former Minister for Energy and Environment
of Barbados, was appointed by the Secretary-General of the United
Nations as Executive Coordinator for the UNCSD Rio + 20 Conference and
assumed her duties in 7 December 2010. Ms. Thompson also served as
Minister for Physical Development and Minister for Health. Ms. Thompson
was appointed to the Barbados Senate and was a practicing attorney as
well as a journalist. In addition, she was a lecturer in ecology,
economy, energy and politics. Ms. Thompson graduated from the University
of the West Indies and obtained an MBA, with distinction, from the
University of Liverpool and a Master of Laws from Robert Gordon
University, Scotland.

Dr. Patrick Martin, a USA Certified Paediatrician (ABP) and Physician
Executive (ACPE), is the Chief Medical Officer of St Kitts and Nevis
having assumed that role in October 2004.He is a graduate of the
University of the Virgin islands and Howard University college of
Medicine. At the regional and international levels, Dr. Martin
represents St Kitts and Nevis in matters relating to public health and
its interface with sustainable development.

Dr. Hugh Sealy, a chemical engineer with a MSc in Environmental
Pollution Science and PhD in Environmental Science is a consultant with
over 25 years of experience as a project manager, a professional
engineer, an environmental scientist and a university lecturer. He was
the Chairman of the Barbados National Energy Policy Committee and the
Chairman of the National Commission on Sustainable Development for the
Government of Barbados. In January 2008, Dr. Sealy was elected as a
Member of the Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
under the UNFCCC. In December 2011      Dr. Sealy was reelected to the
Executive Board of the CDM to serve as the Member for the Alliance of
Small Island States (AOSIS). Currently, Dr. Sealy is an Associate
Professor in the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine in
the School of Medicine at St. George’s University in Grenada.

Dr. Rudolph Cummings MD, MPH, is Health Sector Development Programme
Manager in the Directorate of Human and Social Development, CARICOM
Secretariat, Guyana. Formerly Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of
Health of Guyana, Dr. Cummings assumed office in 2007. In this post he
is responsible for the co-ordination of regional health policy (CCHIII)
across the English-speaking Caribbean, Surinam and Haiti (20 states). He
is also Principal Health Officer of the Community Secretariat, providing
policy guidance to the Secretary General and technical and policy
support to the Ministerial Council on Human and Social Development. He
also participates in the interdisciplinary agenda of the Secretariat.

Dr. Gerry Eijkemans is currently PAHO/WHO Representative in The Bahamas
and Turks and Caicos Islands. Previously, Dr. Eijkemans was PWR for
Suriname. She has 20 years of working experience at country level,
regional level and global level at PAHO, WHO and ILO in the areas of
occupational and environmental health.

Twitter <>

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“Materials provided in this electronic list are provided “as is”. Unless
expressly stated otherwise, the findings
and interpretations included in the Materials are those of the authors
and not necessarily of The Pan American
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Communications for change: How to use text messaging as an effective behavior change campaigning tool

Produced by FrontlineSMS and Text to Change – February 2012

Available online at: 

SMS can be an extremely effective campaigning tool, helping to drive positive social change by increasing awareness of key issues and giving people the information they need to take their well- being into their own hands. SMS is ideal for these types of campaigns in many ways: it is immediate and intimate, coming straight to a device you carry with you most of the time. It works even in places where other digital communications channels fail; and, if received at the right time, it can provide an incredibly meaningful intervention. 

SMS can also be sent to many people at once, using aggregators and other service providers

However, getting SMS campaigns right is not simple. The right content, delivered at the right time in the right context, is critical. Adding the right kind of interaction to campaigns can make them more engaging, and increase their power in encouraging positive change. 

Case Study: –FrontlineSMS and Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health

FrontlineSMS, an open source software for sending and receiving SMS (short message service), to provide a rapid prototype of a new mHealth service.

This service — called CycleTel™ — empowers women by providing them with accessible reproductive health information through SMS. CycleTel facilitates the use of the Standard Days Method® (SDM) of family planning, which is a simple fertility awareness-based method of family planning that teaches a woman to identify her fertile days each menstrual cycle and avoid unprotected sex on these days to prevent pregnancy.

By making this fertility information accessible via SMS, CycleTel helps women take charge of their reproductive health and use an effective family planning method. 

Text to Change
Text to Change sets up interactive SMS campaigns, together with NGOs and companies, focused on improving healthcare and education, stimulating economic development and creating awareness on environmental issues. Moreover, all basic phones are able to receive SMS.
To overcome the illiteracy barriers they make use of Interactive Voice Response services (IVR) as well.

• Text to Change:

• FrontlineSMS: 

Assessing the mobile environment:

Factors affecting the suitability of SMS and mobile for communicating with disaster-affected communities