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UB-led health care team to help Jamaica fight HIV and HCV

Morse and Jamaican group photo

UB team visiting St. Ann’s hospital. Left to right: Charles Anderson, MD, Ryan Erwin, Gene Morse, PharmD, Beverly Joy, John Hatcher, Leo Garel and Angenice Whyte

By SARA R. SALDI

Published June 18, 2014

“The overarching goal of this new collaboration is to bring Buffalo expertise in health care systems to an academic, business, government partnership that will promote healthcare, education, technology and business development in Jamaica and Western New York.”
Gene D. Morse, professor of pharmacy practice and associate director of CBLS
School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

University at Buffalo faculty together with Buffalo business leaders visited Jamaica to conduct foundational meetings with the Jamaica Ministry of Health to collaborate on developing programs for Jamaica in the study and treatment of HIV and hepatitis C (HCV).

The UB team is led by Charles L. Anderson, MD, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and Gene D. Morse, PharmD, UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS) and the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The first step on which UB, Buffalo businesses and Jamaica will collaborate is the planned transition from a regional hospital system with paper medical records to a national electronic medical record system. This effort will blend with the initiatives that are ongoing at the Patient Safety Organization (PSO) located in UB’s Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.

Why electronic medical records? And why now?

This transition will help Jamaica streamline record keeping which is a key objective in its fight against HIV and HCV. According to the Jamaican Information Service (JIS), 32,000 people are living with HIV and as many as 50 percent are unaware that they have the disease.

The collaboration is being modeled after the successful education and research training program that Morse leads with the University of Zimbabwe.

Just as in Zimbabwe, Morse says, the process of working together begins with a focused planning period. Morse is working on the plans with Michelle Hamilton, director of the Jamaican National Immunology Laboratory, who will lead a planning grant application to the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center later in 2014.

Key areas in this research capacity-building collaboration will include training young scientists in laboratory sciences and HIV implementation research, just as Morse did in Zimbabwe.

“The overarching goal of this new collaboration is to bring Buffalo expertise in health care systems to an academic, business, government partnership that will promote healthcare, education, technology and business development in Jamaica and Western New York,” says Morse.

“We are hoping to link their system to the PSO and HIV-HCV clinical pharmacology research program at the Center so that we can provide additional connections to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.”

Regional business leaders were represented by Ryan Erwin, CEO, and John Hatcher, vice president of business development, both from Accessium Group Inc. from Williamsville, NY; Peter Sheehan, MD, Sheehan Health Management Consulting, Inc. of New York City; and Roger White, CEO, Theralase Inc. of Toronto, Ontario.

Beverly Joy, executive director of the Jamaican and American Association of Buffalo and Relva Buchanan, PHD, professor of engineering at the University of Cincinnati represented the Association. Richard Constable, MD, Rudolph Willis, MD, and Robert Clarke, MD, from the New Jersey area, represented the HELPJamaica Medical Mission, an organization under the umbrella of National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations (NAJASO).

The group attended meetings facilitated by Herman LaMont, consul general to the United States at the Ministry of Health in Kingston, Jamaica. The meetings were presided over by the Honorable Dr. Fenton Ferguson, Minister of Health.

Also in attendance was the former Custos rotulorum, Radcliffe Walters of Saint Ann’s Parish. Ocho Rios, in the parish of St. Ann, is a sister city to Buffalo, a designation that promotes program development and collaboration between the two cities.

Presentations given by the business groups included the Accessium Group, which focused on cutting edge technology solutions and health and wellness programs; Theralase Inc. which presented novel therapeutic strategies that employ laser technology; and Sheehan Health Management Consulting, Inc., which explained novel models of primary care for diabetes management.

In an additional meeting with Digicell Inc. plans were reviewed to architect a countrywide private fiber network with telemedicine capabilities.

The Buffalo-Jamaica groups visited St. Ann’s Hospital and during a hospital tour the group had discussions that will provide the basis for selected areas of initial collaboration that are of highest priority to Jamaica.

The hospital also is the patient care hub for a network of community health centers that will be linked by novel information technology approaches, as well as to the PSO located in CBLS.

This is the second time the Buffalo-Jamaica groups have met.

The first visit in January 2014 took place at UB’s CBLS where Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown welcomed the participants.