UWI medical faculty expanding community outreach

Deputy Dean of Recruitment and Outreach at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, Dr Kenneth Connell, says the Faculty of Medical Science is excited to launch its “strategic outreach for 2022”.

The idea will see them respond regularly to public health matters that the island is facing in a holistic fashion.

Connell said that the University, like their international counterparts, has a duty and a responsibility to the society to speak forcefully and independently of the views of the Government and that their opinions should be grounded in scientific or academic research.

“Everyone is familiar with the fact that universities have the responsibility of teaching, it’s often regarded as the first mission. The second mission involves research and other scholarly activities. The third mission which is critical and directly speaks to the public in a dry palatable way is our outreach,” he explained.

“Every year, several times a year, the Faculty of Medical Science has a number of outreach activities. Whether it involves taking part in vaccination efforts during the pandemic or even being a part of the seek and save activity – Operation Seek and Save – which everyone knows about.”

The former president of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados added: “Outreach is important so that universities can connect with people and respond to their current needs. Many times, universities are seen as research towers. Cave Hill, by its name, is described as “up on the hill” detached from society, but outreach allows us to leave the academy and enter into the man’s or woman’s street and get involved with what are some of the issues which are happening there.”

One of the ways UWI plans to innovate is by using their Medical Science students to conduct “peer-to-peer” outreach which allows a younger, technologically savvy generation to take in messages they would be less receptive to if they came from another source.

“It’s not that they do it with only other medical students, but with their own peers in their age they can discuss things related to mental health or sexual transmitted diseases and it sounds differently if it comes from a peer. They have those activities such as World Youth Day and World Obesity Day which can allow them to have a positive impact.”

Students from the Medical Science Faculty participated in May Monitoring Month which aimed to increase high blood pressure awareness in all populations around the world and to focus on accurate blood pressure measurement.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, students were also part of Operation Seek and Save, a door-to-door survey designed to identify and stop the spread of the viral illness. Barbadians were at the time under a mandatory 15-day Government-imposed lockdown in March 2021. (JC)

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