Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 21st 2016 Contents 6 UWI TODAY – SUNDAY 21ST FEBRUARY, 2016
UWI Discovers Cuba
With our plane tickets in hand and sleep still clenching our
bodies, all twelve staffers of The UWI St. Augustine boarded
an early morning flight to Havana, Cuba at the crack of the
new year, 2 January 2016. Our study tour would take us to
La Habana, Matanzas, and Pinar Del Rio provinces.
The group met twice prior to our departure in
preparation for the trip and although we were discussing
logistics, visas and travel insurance, we couldn’t contain
our excitement. With the recent change in diplomatic
relations between the USA and Cuba, thousands of tourists
are flocking to Cuban shores to get a taste of “untouched”
Havana and environs before a fundamental shift takes place.
So we considered ourselves lucky that we too were able to
enjoy Cuba sans American franchises.
We arrived a day after Liberation day, a public holiday
in Cuba which marks the end of Batista’s dictatorship.
Buildings on every street corner were adorned with Cuban
flags, a sure sign of true Cuban patriotism. Cubans are warm,
strong people who are proud of their national identity and
will school you on the teachings of José Marti in an instant.
We encountered many Cubans who expressed how they
felt about the possible changes to come. I noticed that the
answers were based on the age of the person. Cubans age 30
and older said they were concerned about the US taking over
Cuba in a way that would water down the culture and ruin
the Cuban landscape. However, they were excited about the
business opportunities and the economic boost that could
possibly help the country. Younger Cubans were excited
about the thought of Mc Donald’s and other American fast
food joints as well as brand name clothing. All that they
may have heard on TV or seen on the internet. As outsiders,
many of us felt differently, we know damaging consumerism
can be over a country but understand the steps the Cuba
needs to take in order to progress.
In February 2015, Campus Principal, Professor Clement
Sankat and Sharan Singh, director of the campus’ Office
of Institutional Advancement and Internationalization
visited various tertiary level institutions in Havana to
enhance the relationship between Cuba and Trinidad and
Tobago. In November, the University hosted a delegation
of Cuban scholars during Cuba week, a week dedicated to
conferences and lectures focusing on new opportunities,
intercultural communication and economic environment
of the Cuban Market. The year 2015 can be dubbed as the
year of Cuba, filled with cultural exchanges, collaborations
and relationship building. Our trip couldn’t have happened
at a better time.
Throughout the nine days, we explored the towering
Spanish and Baroque style buildings of old Havana, ate fresh
vegetables from a cooperative organic farm, learned four
different styles of Cuban dance, and were treated to tea and
a presentation by members of the Caribbean Association of
Cuba. Dare I not mention, our bus breaking down on the
high way, as part of “The Cuban experience.”
According to Director of the campus’ Office of
Institutional Advancement and Internationalization, Sharan
Singh, “UWI Discovers is part of The UWI’s strategic efforts
towards internationalization: the development of education,
research, and community service for global impact. Through
cultural immersion and academic guidance, the series
explores emerging markets of the world to foster similar
critical thinking, technological innovation, and cultural
preservation in Caribbean nationals.” The group was hosted
by the Centre of Jose Martís Studies, led by Cuban academic
coordinator, Dr Jacqueline LaGuardia Martinez and UWI
study tour coordinator, Afiya Francis. They attended lectures
at the Centre followed by tours which covered several topics
including Cuban art and culture, politics, healthcare and
Cuba’s diplomatic relations.
One of the participants, UWI student, Solange
Roberts-Clarke said that the opportunity to get first-hand
knowledge about Cuban society, history, culture and much
more while experiencing Cuba was amazing. She left with
an overall deeper respect and love for the country as well
as a different perspective on life, people, history, culture of
Cuba and the world.
We can all agree with Solange. We left with an
appreciation for the charming island and our own home
country. We came back with memories and a stomach
bug. But overall, Cuba has changed our thoughts on over
consumption and waste, and what it means to have pride
in your country.
This year, the DISCOVER series will travel to South
Africa to learn about the history and culture of the country
and explore its wine regions, cosmopolitan cities and wildlife
game reserves. This follows trips to India in 2012 and
2013, and Brazil in 2013. At its core, the series provides the
opportunity to explore the most dynamic and increasingly
influential countries in the world. The tours are open to
students, staff and faculty of The UWI (all campuses) and
of all regional higher education institutions. Alumni of
The UWI are also welcome to apply as well as members
of the public who are active in fields related to the study
tour theme. For further information, contact Afiya Francis
at 662-2002 ext. 84280, 224-3707 or email Afiya.Francis@
UWI delegates with members of the Caribbean Association of Cuba
Group dinner on our first night in Cuba
Afiya Francis takes a jump in Vinales Valley
SUNDAY 21ST FEBRUARY, 2016 – UWI TODAY 11
MAKING OUR MARK
Dr. Windsor Frederick
Lecturer, Child Health, Faculty of Medical Sciences,
The University of the West Indies
a. He made a presentation entitled ‘Critical Issues in
the Paediatric age group’
b. He suggested that ZIKV virus is expected to
reach our shores in the near future. There may be
challenges in assessment and management of patients
with ZIKV due to the simultaneous circulation of
the Dengue and Chikungunya viruses. This would be
especially so in infants due to the non-specific nature
of disease presentation in this age group and the
similarities in presentation of the viruses mentioned.
c. If a causative role for ZIKV in these cases of
congenital anomalies, is confirmed this may have
significant implications for the potential burden that
ZIKV may place on the health care system.
d. Affected infants may have complex
neurodevelopmental issues which would
require thorough assessment and long term,
multidisciplinary, follow up.
e. Identified the challenges posed by ZIKV as the
non-specific presentations in younger children
and infants, distinguishing between ZIKV cases
and dengue fever, reports of possible congenital
abnormalities due to vertical transmission.
f. He highlighted possible complications of ZIKV as
possible association with Guillain-Barre syndrome
and other neurological complications-– meningitis,
g. Recommended the following management measures
for ZIKV cases: supportive care, rule out other
serious conditions, attention to oral intake and
hydration status, thorough evaluation and follow
up of patients with the possible effects of vertical
The Editor will like to thank Professors Abiodun Adesiyun, Clive Landis and Terence Seemungal for their notes, comments and contributions towards the publication of this feature.
Part 2 that covers prevention in greater detail was contributed by Dr Vijay Chattu,
Lecturer in Public Health at the Faculty of Medical Sciences and is available on line at UWI Today: https://sta.uwi.edu/uwitoday/
Dr. Michelle Ramjohn
Specialist Obstetrician/Gynaecologist, Mt. Hope
a. She presented a paper entitled ‘Why Pregnancy is high-
risk for H1N1 and Zika?’
b. Pregnant women are at increased risk of morbidity
and mortality with the H1N1 virus. Newborns born
to mothers who develop severe illness are at increased
risk of prematurity and low birth weight. Daily new
information is emerging about the effects of ZIKV in
pregnancy requiring us to formulate new strategies to
combat this potentially crippling disease.
c. She referred to a statement by the El Salvador Deputy
Health Minister, Eduardo Espinoza that ‘We’d like to
suggest to all the women of fertile age that they take steps
to plan their pregnancies, and avoid getting pregnant
between this year and next.’
d. Information on ZIKV available to date was identified
i. There is limited but daily increasing knowledge
about ZIKV infection in humans and pregnant
ii. October 2015 – Brazil Health officials noticed an
unusual increase in microcephaly
iii. By November 2015 the incidence of microcephaly
99.7/100,000 live births,
previous years e.g. 2010 incidence of microcephaly
– 5.7/100,000 live births, which represents a 20 fold
increase in incidence.
iv. In Brazil, ZIKV genome has been detected in
amniotic fluid samples of pregnant women
whose fetus was diagnosed with microcephaly on
ultrasound and in blood and tissue samples of a
baby who died at 5 minutes of life.
v. The greatest risk of microcephaly or congenital
abnormalities is associated with the ZIKV in the
vi. French Polynesia has reported an increase in
fetuses and newborns with CNS malformations-
fetal cerebral malformations or polymalformative
syndromes, including brain lesions. Some infants
were reported as having brain stem dysfunction
and absence of swallowing.
vii. All of the above suggest that there is a mother to
child transmission of the ZIKV.
e. The speaker identified the symptoms of ZIKV infections
in pregnant women as:
i. Generally mild and short lived (2-7 days)
ii. Similar to those of Dengue and Chikunguya:
Low grade fever, Joint pain (swelling mainly
in the smaller joints of hands and feet), rash,
conjunctivitis, headache, muscle pain and eye pain.
f. Recommendations made by the presenter are as follows:
i. Thus far the ZIKV has been shown to have adverse
effects on the fetus.......but it is preventable.
ii. Hence pregnant women should consider the risks
of travel to ZIKV endemic areas and consider
postponing their trip.
iii. Educate women about the symptoms of Zika and
the need to seek medical attention
iv. There is no vaccine or specific antiviral to combat
ZIKV, therefore the only way to avoid the virus is
to avoid being bitten by infected mosquitoes.
Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh (l) is warmly welcomed by Dean of The UWI’s Faculty of Medical Science, Professor
Terence Seemungal (r) at the start of the symposium held at the Teaching and Learning Complex, at The UWI.
The causative agent of
Zika fever, is a mosquito-
borne flavivirus that is
currently emerging in
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