Inequality is a major barrier to good health. According to the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), persistent inequities across gender, race and socioeconomic groups in the Caribbean compound every major health challenge facing the region. For example, it has been shown that access to health care for women of indigenous and African descent in the Caribbean has been stymied by deep discrimination, including patient blaming, neglect, verbal or physical abuse and disregard for traditional beliefs. In response to the identified socio-economic determinants of health in the Caribbean region, PAHO/WHO launched a new Commission on Equity and Health Inequalities in the Region of the Americas to focus on the profound effects that non-health social factors have on health outcomes. This is among the first large-scale effort to gather evidence on health inequities in the Region of the Americas.
In support of these initiatives, the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) has established the Caribbean Center for Health Equity (CCHE) at St. George's University (SGU) in Grenada. WINDREF and SGU have been involved over the last 20 years in many applied research projects related to health disparities. The newly-established CCHE will serve to coordinate regional efforts to promote health equity from within the region. The CCHE will include a regional network of partner governmental, academic and community based institutions, related researchers and practitioners as well as support students in education, research and service work on health equity.
A Caribbean free from health inequities
Serve as a center of excellence in education, research and knowledge translation towards addressing social determinants of health and providing accessible and equitable health for the Caribbean region.
The principal goal of the proposed CCHE is to promote equity among the Caribbean society by reducing the impact of social determinants of health.
The CCHE will exist as a Program within WINDREF. Other currently existing centers and programs in WINDREF include the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Regional Collaborating Center (UNFCCC, RCC), Sports for Health, Caribbean Ecohealth, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, Bioethics, and Brain Initiative, among others. Similar to these other programs, the CCHE would be established with a director, deputy director, and expert advisory board of vested individuals and investigators who will provide support and oversight of the Center’s activities. The CCHE will utilize the administrative capability and physical space provided by WINDREF in Grenada (located on SGUs True Blue campus) for raising and tracking funds for the program. The CCHE will report to the Board of WINDREF (via the Director of WINDREF), and will provide an annual report to the Director of WINDREF outlining the Center’s activities over the past year. This report will be included in the WINDREF annual report.
The CCHE as a center will be administratively aligned to the Director and Deputy Director of WINDREF, which will provide oversight and support for the work of the CCHE. The Director of the CCHE will be appointed as a Senior Research Fellow of WINDREF and will be able to access resources and technical support through the Director and Deputy Director of WINDREF. The CCHE will join and coordinate ongoing local and regional initiatives at WINDREF, which also serve to address several health equity needs for the region including areas of promoting health equity. Specific programs with a focus on Health Equity will be aligned to the CCHE and the administration of the CCHE will be organized as shown in the Figure below.
A number of ongoing projects and programs will immediately fall under the purview of the CCHE: