CAIHR celebrates 20 years of global impact and looks to tackle NCDS

CAIHR celebrated 20 years of Global Impact with the staging of its CAIHR at 20 Symposium, highlighting the momentous closure of the Tropical Metabolism Research Unit (TMRU) Malnutrition Ward among other notable achievements.

The TMRU is one of four Units which comprise the Caribbean Institute for Health Research (CAIHR) and is credited for being at the forefront of research resulting in the reduction of morbidity and mortality rates associated with severe childhood malnutrition, both locally and internationally. The contributions of the TMRU in understanding this biologically complex disease informed prevention and treatment and have been translated into global public health policy and programmes.

With the closure of the Malnutrition Ward, TMRU in collaboration with the other units in CAIHR, is now re-focused to tackle nutrition-related non-communicable diseases such as obesity. Currently, most lower-middle income countries (LMICs) have a high level of NCDs as a result of adult obesity, driven in part by adverse early childhood nutrition and nutritional deficiencies. In the Caribbean, the NCD burden particularly affects women, including those of childbearing age, with potential implications for their offspring. Unfortunately, at present, the region’s NCD burden remains unchecked and threatens to limit gains made in the eradication of malnutrition.

Against this background CAIHR brought together regional and international experts in non-communicable chronic disease research for three thought-provoking symposium workshops. They provided a forum for discussing research strategies to address the current nutritional and related non-communicable chronic disease health challenges affecting the Caribbean, other low and middle income countries (LMIC) and resource-poor Small-Island Developing States (SIDS). The work of the TMRU in addressing childhood malnutrition was reviewed with a view of developing a model for tackling complex health problems in these countries.

Professor Alan Jackson, a former TMRU Director has traced the extensive research work and responses carried out over the years to eradicate child malnutrition in Jamaica and the new challenges posed by over-nutrition. Professor Alan Jackson chaired the session focusing on Nutrition and Metabolic Studies In Cancer.