Message from the chairman

I congratulate the students and faculty of The University of the West Indies School of Clinical Medicine and Research for working tirelessly to ensure that this Research Symposium became a reality. Despite the monumental task, the desire to improve the status quo and answer the difficult questions for the benefit of the people of The Bahamas served to catalyse the completion of these projects.

Over the course of the history of medicine, research has led to a better understanding of disease and death. One of the first major advances in medicine was noted in the practice of personal hygiene and the discovery of microorganisms. Very few people today die of communicable disease and live long lives, but are at risk for developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The prevention of NCDs require significant lifestyle modifications. These include appropriate; diet and exercise. This must be a cultural phenomenon. The research done on sweetened beverage tax and other government legislation to improve or contribute to healthy living would go a far way thus furthering the health of our people. The Department of Public Works and Engineering have a role to play as well. When building our communities,  walking paths and parks to facilitate exercise ought to be built in as part of the community plan. Alleviating the burden posed by chronic non-communicable disease will prove profitable for the society in general.

Another major development has to do with the sequencing of the human DNA. We now have a better understanding of some of the genetic defects associated with cancer. Novel therapeutic agents that target these genes are now available and significantly improve outcomes. Both basic science and therapeutic developments will be highlighted at this conference. There is much to be excited about in this new area of personalized medicine.

Although infectious diseases have been on the decline we must be ever vigilant. In the aftermath of natural disasters such as the recent hurricane Dorian there may be a resurgence of illness such as of water borne illnesses. It is imperative for us to have a national disaster plan with bipartisan buy-in. The experience of the medical community and ways to improve disaster preparedness will also be discussed at this research day.

I thank The School’s Director, Dr. Robin Roberts, all the members of the Research Committee, The Research Unit, faculty, students, technical and conference teams. Thanks also must be extended to our international, regional and local experts. We are indebted to The Royal Bank of Canada, The University of The Bahamas, The Public Hospitals Authority and Physicians’ Alliance for their unwavering support. Above all we thank God for His hand in making this conference a reality. We continue to give our prayers and support for the people of Grand Bahama and Abaco during these trying times.

Dr Darron Halliday
Research Committee Chair
University of The West Indies, School of Clinical Medicine and Research