Once again, The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has launched a Task Force to assist with the mobilisation of the region's public health providers to deal with an incoming virus. Four years ago, the Zika virus triggered the response; today it is COVID-19.
Again, the Task Force is chaired by The UWI's Professor Clive Landis, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Undergraduate Studies and former Director of the George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre, who has considerable experience in the field of Caribbean public health.
Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles stated, “Against the background of dealing with its internal affairs in China, The UWI has been working in close collaboration with regional health ministries and the relevant CARICOM agencies.”The purpose, he added, is to “provide the necessary scientific data on the virus and to work with government colleagues in creating an effective communications strategy for the region.” He concluded saying, “The Task Force will have a critical role to play in solutions building in the immediate future”.
Membership of the Task Force is drawn from the regional UWI campuses, comprising multi-discipline specialists, scientists, researchers and public health professionals with combined expertise in virology,
epidemiology, laboratory diagnostics, critical care, respiratory medicine, pulmonology, health leadership, emergency medicine, veterinary medicine, mental health, public health, clinical psychology and counselling, tourism, trade, international relations, public education, youth advocacy, gender, ethics, and communication, among other areas.
Commenting on the work of the Task Force, Professor Landis stated, “It is right that The UWI should deploy its full expertise as a public academy to help Caribbean communities cope at this instance of the COVID-19 epidemic. The primary emphasis of the COVID-19 Task Force will be to provide accurate and reliable information through UWItv and other channels of communication, and to share research with national and regional agencies managing the COVID-19 pandemic in the Caribbean. Armed with good information and strong partnerships we will get through this viral outbreak as we did for'swine flu', Chikungunya and Zika before it.”
A trusted, reliable, single source of information, the Task Force website, www.uwi.edu/covid19 provides a helpful repository of resources all relevant to the Caribbean's response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. This includes daily Covid-19 Surveillance reports by region/country produced by The UWI George Alleyne - Chronic Disease Research Centre (GA-CDRC).