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Tropical Diseases Conference Held at AUA Campus

WHO expert stresses research in economic development

Deputy Director Special Programme for Research in Tropical Diseases, World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Janet Kayondo, has stressed the link between research and a country’s economic and community development.

Dr. Kayondo was the guest speaker at the first Rotary Club of Antigua Annual Tropical Diseases Conference, held recently at American University of Antigua College of Medicine.

“In order for research to be effective, it needs to be linked to economic and community development and meet the needs of society and not just be research for research sake,” she stated during her presentation.

Dr. Kayondo added that universities and centres like the Centre for Tropical Diseases and International Travels (CTDIT) have a very important role to play in improving local science facilities.

“This is an opportunity to build capacity in a tangible way by raising the local science standards by investing in systems, training and upgrading clinical labs. A university should be a hub that can assist with national capacity building along with input from local think tank. It will create a culture of inquiry regarding health by asking relevant questions. It should be an enabling environment, innovative and as an agent for change,” she stated.

Paul Ryan, President of the Rotary Club of Antigua, said the club’s involvement is all part of its mandate of health, hunger and humanity and that this partnership is “one extra step in our society to eradicate illnesses such as Dengue Fever and we are very pleased to be a part of this project.”

Dr. Kayondo’s lecture was one of the feature events for the Centre of Tropical Diseases and International Travels’ (CTDIT) third anniversary. Other special events included an International Symposium on Dengue Fever with presentations by Dr. O.O. Dipeolu, chair and professor of micro biology and managing director of CTDIT; Dr. Angel Alvarez, epidemiologist, Pedro Kouri Tropical Medicine Institute, Cuba and Dr. David Severson, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA.

There was also a Students’ Research Day, where students unveiled their findings from a stud of local food handlers.

Dr. Dipeolu explained that his project, which is a study of ‘The Mosquitoes of Antigua: Abundance, Prevalence, Biology, Bionomics and Disease Transmission Potentials.’, grew out of the Centre’s desire to look at regional problems that could impact on Antigua and Barbuda. “We looked at our resources and how we could best utilise them and decided that we needed to do an extensive study of Antigua and Barbuda mosquitoes, as one had not been done before and we felt that it was important for us to do this for two reasons – the long term to become a recognized research centre of excellence and in the short term understand the vectors.”

The study was conducted nationwide and began with a preliminary study July 1 to Oct. 30, 2006 and then systematic data collection from Nov. 1, 2006 to Oct. 30, 2007. They identified 18 species of mosquitoes and collected 106,130 mosquitoes.

Dr. Dipeolu expressed his thanks to AUA College of Medicine Dean, Dr. Peter Bell, faculty and research students for their support and to the members of the community who allowed his team to set up mosquito traps on their property, free of cost.

Dr. Dipeolu added that he is very satisfied with the response to the events and disclosed that they are in discussions to develop a postgraduate research programme for Antiguan scientists and community health specialists.