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This article is part of the supplement: Global health research case studies: lessons from partnerships addressing health inequities

Open Access Research article

Strengthening integrated research and capacity development within the Caribbean region

Martin Forde1*, Karen Morrison2, Eric Dewailly3, Neela Badrie4 and Lyndon Robertson5

Author Affiliations

1 St. George's University, Grenada, W.I

2 University of Guelph, Canada

3 Universite Laval, Quebec, Canada

4 The University of the West Indies, Trinidad, W.I

5 The University of the West Indies, Barbados, W.I

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BMC International Health and Human Rights 2011, 11(Suppl 2):S7  doi:10.1186/1472-698X-11-S2-S7

Published: 8 November 2011

Abstract

Background

The Caribbean region, like other developing regions of the world, faces significant challenges in conducting research, especially in the context of limited resource capacities and capabilities. Further, due to its diverse and multiple island states, research capacity is scattered and unevenly spread within the region. The Caribbean EcoHealth Programme (CEHP) is a research program that is structured to improve the capacity and capability of health professionals in the Caribbean region to respond in integrative and innovative ways to on-going and emerging environmental health challenges by means of multi-sectoral interventions.

Methods

Core parts of the CEHP’s mission are to (1) conduct collaborative research in areas that the region has identified as critical; (2) build and strengthening integrated approaches to research; and (3) develop and enhance basic research capacity within the Caribbean region.

Fundamental to the success of the CEHP’s human and resource development mission has been its use of the Atlantis Mobile Laboratory (AML). The AML has allowed the CEHP program to move throughout the Caribbean and be able to respond to calls for specific research and capacity building opportunities.

Results

The CEHP’s five main research projects have generated the following results: (1) the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) study has evaluated human exposures to POPs, heavy metals, pesticides, and zoonotic infections; (2) the Burden of Illness (BOI) studies have developed protocols for the testing of foodborne microorganisms, strengthen laboratory analytical capabilities, and determined the prevalence and incidence of food-borne illness; (3) the Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) study has evaluated the microbial and chemical quality of rainwater harvesting systems; (4) the Ecotoxicology Water (ETW) studies have provided much needed data on the quality of recreational and drinking water supplies, and (5) the Food Safety Training Program has developed Diploma and M.Sc Agri-Food Safety and Quality Assurance programmes.

Conclusions

The CEHP program provides a successful example of how a collaborative instead of researcher driven research agenda can lead to not only the generation of needed information, but also leave within the region where the research has been carried out the capacity and capabilities to continue to do so independent of outside interventions.