Ca Caribbean Quarterly
Vol. 54, No. 3
GUEST EDITOR: NEVILLE McMORRIS
(CopTyright reserved and reproduction without permission strictly forbidden)
The 60th Anniversary : Science and Technology in the Caribbean
Guest Editorial v
Science For The People 1
A Clear Human Footprint in the Coral Reefs of the Caribbean 11
A journey through the Medicinal Plant Industry of the Caribbean
highlighting UWI's Contribution 27
Sylvia A. Mitchell, Rani-Devi Jagnarine, Raxon Simmonds,
Taja Francis, David Picking and Mohammed H. Ahmad
Interviews with Professor Hugh Wynter 53
Joan Meade and Pansy Hamilton
NOTES AND COMMENTS
The Climate Studies Group Mona: 85
Tannecia S. Stephenson, A. Anthony Chen, Michael A. Taylor
Information on Contributors 89
Instructions to authors 90
I #Am" %--
VOLUME 54, No.3
UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES
Professor, the Hon. R.M. Nettleford, O.M. VC Emeritus, Editor
Sir Roy Augier, Professor Emeritus, History, Mona.
Professor H. Beckles, Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal, UWI, Cave Hill.
Professor B. Chevannes, Research Fellow, MSB, UWI, Mona,
Wayne Hunte, PVC Graduate Studies and Research, UWI, St. Augustine
Professor B.Lalla, Faculty of Arts and Education, UWI, St.Augustine
Mr. J. Periera, Vice Principal, UWI, Mona
Professor Clement Sankat, PVC, Principal, UWI, St. Augustine
Professor Gordon Shirley, PVC and Principal, UWI, Mona.
Professor H Simmons-McDonald, PVC, NCCs and Distance Education, UWI,
Mrs. Linda Speth, General Manager, UWI Press
Dr. B. Tewarie, PVC, Office of Planning and Development, UWI, St.Aug.
Professor Alvin Wint, PVC, Board for Undergraduate Studies, UWI, Mona
Dr. V.Salter, CSI, Managing Editor,
Manuscripts We invite readers to submit articles and book reviews of relevance to the
Caribbean. Authors should refer to the guidelines on the web page.
Exchanges: Exchanges are conducted by the Gifts and Exchanges Section,
Library, University of the West Indies, Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica
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Caribbean Quarterly is available on microfilm from Xerox University Microfilms and in
book form from Kraus-Thompson Reprint Ltd.
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All correspondence and contributions should be addressed to:
Cultural Studies Initiative, OVC-E
University of the West Indies, PO Box 130, Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica
Tel. No. 876-970-3261, Tel Fax 876-977-6105
Caribbean Quarterly, Volume 55, No. 3, September, 2008 celebrating the
60th Anniversary of the University of the West Indies salutes the work and
research of our scientists who, like the poets and artists have also celebrated the
unique and indigenous heritage of our island region. The first essay, Science For
The People from the archives, (CQ Vol. 1, 1974) sets the tone for the entire issue.
It clearly indicates that the principal tenets that were relevant over thirty years ago
are still of relevance for the region today namely that science must be not only
creative and innovative but must also take into account the socio-economic and
cultural factors in the region that are so vastly different from those of our
neighbours to the North. Caribbean Quarterly lauds the efforts of these
Caribbean scientists and welcomes Dr Neville McMorris, a former Dean of the
Faculty of Natural Sciences, Mona and a long time member of the Caribbean
Quarterly's Editorial Board as Guest Editor of this issue.
This issue of the Caribbean Quarterly takes the opportunity of the sixtieth
anniversary of the University of the West Indies to publish scientific papers and
recollections covering almost the whole period of the university's existence. At
the same time, it covers a range of scientific disciplines from climate change to
fertility management within a regional context. The issue has also chosen a range
of stylistic presentations appropriate to such an occasion.
There is a long interview given by Professor the Hon Hugh Wynter who
spent fifty- odd of those years within the university, in one role or another. We
gain from the interview perspectives not only of Obstetrics but of the Medical
Faculty as a whole. There is a short paper in the form of Notes and Comments
detailing the work done by the Climate Studies Group in the department of physics
at Mona, and written by members of that group. This includes work that
contributed to the United Nations publication that shared the Nobel Peace prize for
2007. One paper, written in 1974 by Lloyd Coke, looks at the culture of science
and technology from the perspective of that year. It gives us an opportunity to see
in what ways change has occurred. A fourth paper from the Medicinal Plant
Research Group from the Biotechnology Centre, and written by members of that
group, reveals the abundance of indigenous botanical material that exist, and the
ways in which they are being exploited for our health and wealth. A fifth paper,
written by Mora outside our academic environment, deals with an important issue
- the destruction of our protective corals. Unlike a couple of the other papers this
paper is a timely warning about the ways in which we can destroy our natural
talents rather than exploit them. The papers together may be seen as a welcome
companion piece to the exploits of our Caribbean athletes at the recently
concluded Olympic Games, the story of which is the way in which our young
Caribbean Nationals at different levels and in different roles have come together
to exploit some of our natural resources.
The sub-text of this narrative is we are regional, belonging to the Caribbean
region. We are a scattered people reflected in the archipelagic formation from
Cuba to Barbados, and from the Bahamas to Aruba, and the university represents
the best, although not the oldest, symbol of this regionality. We take for granted
our historical and even cultural oneness; and our political bonds; and we do this
despite different rates and levels of development. Language is the one barrier that
we seriously acknowledge. We need to go to science to tell us how much we are
indeed a region, biologically and geologically. Three of the papers speak directly
to this issue, and we are taken back to the point that I want to emphasise, and that is
that the university has been the symbolic and productive source of this
development. Sixty odd years ago this was not the image that many of us had of the
future of any university in the West Indies
In 1943 five years before the academic beginnings of the university, a
well-known journalist and author, H.G. deLisser, wrote that the idea of a local
university was laughable. He saw no practical value in such an institution. He
believed that "Few here [in Jamaica] are fit to pass an opinion about an elementary
school, much more a university college." Indeed, we started modestly. As Douglas
Hall reports in his A Quinquagenary Calendar 1948-1998 "We were not asked to
prepare a blueprint for a fully-fledged university nor did we venture on such a
presumptuous course." We were to be shepherded by the well-established
University of London. But even this was too presumptuous for some in Jamaica
(where the first campus Mona- was established). We have come a long way.
Although it was medical students who were first matriculated into the
university college it was science that was first taught physics, chemistry, botany
and zoology. Science therefore is the discipline that is contemporaneous with the
university, and it had a very auspicious beginning.
We can now move forward sixty years and first look at the scientific paper
by Mora on Corals. We start with the paper on Corals since it best captures
regionality. It highlights our biological (and geographical) unity by identifying the
ways in which, by our human actions, we have destroyed on a regional basis our
coral reefs and other organic matter. The paper is a sophisticated statistical
analysis that indeed incorporates the Caribbean as an ecological whole, and
specifically shows how our actions have regional effects. The diagrams reflecting
this statistical analysis have been arranged as an appendix. The paper can be read
without reference to this appendix.
The paper shows, specifically, how human activities, like coastal
development, are causing degradation of our protective corals, and affecting the
biomass of our fishes. One of its conclusions is that In regards to the scale of
incidence of the human effect.... The responses in all ecological
groups..... occurred mostly over large geographical scales. This indicates a
common response of coral reefs and a broad effect of human settlements
throughout the Caribbean.."
Climate change also led to reduced biomass. Indeed, it was found to be "one
of the major threats to the future of coral reefs. Reef sites were found to have
higher mortality rates in warmer environments".
It follows from the results of the paper that the solutions to the problems is an
integrated attack on some of the sources of degradation, coupled with regional
enforcement of Marine Protected Areas. Our regional status, identified as the
sub-text of this paper, is no better demonstrated than by the way in which one of
our papers on Climate Change is seen to be of scientific relevance to another paper
The paper on Climate Change gives a brief summary of the work undertaken
by the Climate Group, significantly reporting that there is climate change in the
Caribbean, especially with respect to temperature. However, it goes beyond this
problem of temperature affecting coral mortality. The work has gone further and
deeper in linking our patterns to significant global patterns, such as El Nino.
The work of the group has also shown some linkage between climate, the
onset of El Nin6 and the onset of the deadly dengue fever. The striking aspect of
this work is that it shows, not, as in the work on Corals, a link with another science
but with strictly medical problems. All of this emphasises the extent to which we
and our environment are one, the message that Al Gore, the United Nations, and
others have been attempting to transmit for years.
The group's work has extended to investigation of alternative energy
sources, especially wind. Wind has already been exploited for the production of
electrical energy in Jamaica, and its further use will reflect wonderfully well on the
overall national usefulness of the Group's work.
Health and Wealth considerations again emerge from the paper on
harnessing the potential of our plants. It is largely a work in progress as it sets out
to propagate suitable plantlets and train farmers to use them, but also to produce
medical extracts. The Medical Plant Research Group surveys the issue starting
with the world, then closing in on the Caribbean before highlighting the work
being done at Mona and in the Biotechnology Centre.
Thus a disinfectant from the neem plant has been developed to commercial
standards. The propagation of plantlets has been followed by the training of scores
of farmers to take field data for comparison with normal planting material. The
training of farmers- 150 so far- has been done in structured meetings, reflecting the
clear recognition that the development pursued by the Centre would come to
naught if there was no link with the farmers who have a vested interest anyway.
Detailed information is provided about the work done on potential medicinal
plants and the benefits they could provide. The plants that have been studied,
among many others, are ginger, tumeric, aloe, and sarsaparilla. The usefulness of
the medicinal elements of ginger has been confirmed. However, it is necessary as
the Centre is attempting, to provide rhizome(shoot)-rot free varieties to
significantly increase the production. The variety of application of these plants is
impressive, nausea, fever, ulcers, liver dysfunction, bums, and arthritis to name a
The Centre is attempting and achieving the micropropagation of disease free
plantlets that can have significant benefits to the wealth and health of our region.
The more successful aspect of their work, however, has been, so far, the link with
farmers and community groups. This emphasis is an attempt to correct the
imbalance that had existed, with much more attention being paid to the medical
aspects of such work. This work should remain in the forefront of their research
since it might be more than rumour or speculation that plants such as Guinea hen
weed may be of significant benefit to cancer patients and others.
There is interest on many fronts in the long interview with Professor Wynter.
To begin with, he gives us a detailed account of his family background and the
values instilled in him that would have helped to guide him to a life of service and
achievement. It seemed that Medicine, particularly obstetrics was waiting for
someone like Professor Wynter.
One gets a feel for what it was like to belong (as a student) in a small
university college, with bicycles and Saturday morning classes; and then to an
established Faculty with largely expatriate Heads and Deans; and finally to an
established university and being in charge of aspects of that establishment. Wynter
recalls the staid early years suffused with protocol, and the college's royal
connections. Within the university he had experience of the imperial mentality of
the academic leaders who were not beyond condescension and exclusion, and who
shared the view of deLisser from 1943 that the 'locals' would not be capable of
'taking over'. At the same time he regrets the passing of the old manners and
courtesies, replaced by a pointless insouciance within the faculty as well as in the
wards. He also has much praise for the training in those early years while admitting
that the quality of medical training has not suffered despite a change in its form.
The interview is centred mainly around the establishment of the unit -
Advanced Training and Research in Fertility Management in the department of
Obstetrics and Gynaecology that involved qualities of compassion and vision as
well as significant research and administrative competence.
It was the plight of women who had to wait for days for the process of tubal
ligation that stimulated Professor Wynter to move to introduce the new
culdoscopic methods of female sterilization. This allowed the mothers almost
immediate return to their babies. This small beginning grew through significant
research producing some of the earliest publications on the method. The success of
the initial unit attracted funding from German organizations so that eventually an
identifiable building was erected. Much praise was heaped on the project and
awards from the UNFPA given.
Wynter realized the wide need for the services he had introduced and it
spread throughout Jamaica and the Caribbean to as far as Suriname. An important
development was training, necessary for the spread of the services. Hundreds of
people were trained, some of whom trained others in subsequent years, a multiplier
effect that is vital in institutional development.
The paper on Science and Technology, unlike the interview, gives us a slice
of history. It speaks to the lack of confidence of the entrepreneurial class in the
university, the seeming lack of confidence of the academics in themselves, and an
absence of a culture of science and technology in 1974. This was not long after the
time, Professor Wynter noted, that the medical leadership still doubted that
'locals' could take over. This paper also felt it necessary to advise academic staff
how to go about conducting successful research for development, and bemoaned
the fact that relevant work was not being done to fuel it. Perhaps there was a crisis
of transition then but the situation is very different in 2008.
To begin with, in the 1970s applied undergraduate programmes were just
being introduced. This emphasis naturally led to postgraduate programmes and to
(national) development concerns.
The university has also gone beyond the mere signaling to staff by the
Assessment and Promotions Committee, and has made institutional changes to
promote research and development. Thus various Centres and Institutes have been
set up at the University largely for targeted research. There are Biotechnology and
Marine Science Centres and a Natural Products Institute at Mona and St.
Augustine campuses. Cave Hill has set up a Solar Management unit (SOLPROM)
and has built a solar generator. Mona houses the, the Mona Institute of Applied
Sciences, St. Augustine, in its Faculty of Science and Agriculturehouses the
Analytical Services Unit, the Business Development Unit and the University Field
Station. These are all Faculty units. In addition, at Mona there is an externally
funded Natural Products Laboratory and an Asbestos Studies Unit in the
Department of Chemistry, and the International Centre for Environmental and
Nuclear Sciences. The university has also alerted its staff to intellectual property
concerns and patents consistent with this research and development thrust. Thus
the culture of science and development in the university has been gradually
It would not be exaggerating to say that the particular reservations in
Medicine and Science of the 1970s have been removed. From Wynter's interview
we obtain a clear idea of how one of our own developed a major project that
proved to be of benefit to the Caribbean, and the Fertility Unit (now named the
Hugh Wynter Fertility Management Unit) remains a monument to that effort. We
see. also, the way in which the Biotechnology Centre joined in an effort of global
significance that is going to be of national benefit. It is further a signal
development that the university through work spearheaded by Professor Chen of
Mona and conducted by all three campuses was involved in the UN study that was
attached to the Nobel Peace Prize won in 2007.
The situation of the 1970's has changed and we are at the stage when we no
longer need to import resources, but may be able to export intellectual products.
NEVILLE MC MORRIS
Science For The People*
The Management of Science and Technology in the West Indies
I believe that the creativity of scientists and technologists is an important
force affecting the lives of people in all societies. To some people the scientist is a
mad devil creating engines of war and environmental destruction. To others, he is
a saint creating healing medicines and breeding high-yielding crops. Saints or
devils, we ought to be interested in what our men of science are doing to and for
our island societies, and to study the threats and opportunities facing them, for the
deployment of their talent has important consequences for everyone.
The Social and Economic Setting
Our scientists and technologists operate in societies very different from
those in which their metropolitan colleagues work, and most importantly different
from the societies in which a large number of them received formal training. Our
countries have evolved from sugar plantations to economies pinning hopes on
development by inviting large multinational corporations to establish industries
here.1,2 Local manufacturing enterprises have evolved from commissioned
agencies by assembling what formerly was imported in a fully made-up form.
Slowly but surely, control of major natural resources passed into the hands of
multinational corporations and their agents together with control over loyalties of
a significant segment of local technical talent-what might be called an internal
The largest number of scientists is probably to be found in the Civil Service
or in quasi-governmental organizations such as statutory boards and the
University of the West Indies. An important segment of technical talent may be
found in the professions of medicine, engineering, architecture and surveying.
However, the deployment of talent in all those sectors reflects the general
dependence of the economy and the society even now, ten years after political
Interviews with Jamaican technicians and scientists working for the
manufacturers in partnership with or under direct control from an overseas
corporation reveal that their main function is to see that local processes and
products conform to specifications set by Head Office. Quality control or public
relations is emphasised at the expense of productive innovations. When, in spite of
the emphasis, a native scientist persists in attempting innovations he is actively
discouraged by Head Office, because:
(a) An important profit is based on charges made for use of patented
materials and processes supplied from the parent firm.
(b) Preservation of the international "brand image" is all-important, even if
the proposed innovation may introduce features of special benefit to the local
community into the process or product being marketed.
) Acceptance of locally-inspired innovations may lead to unwelcome
demands for greater sharing of profits.
Often, however, there is little opportunity for innovation when operations
consist of assembling pre-designed and almost-finished components. Not
surprisingly, creative employers in such firms quickly find themselves promoted
to administration or sales to become executives rather than producers.
An interesting example of resistance to local innovation was revealed in the
response of the alumina industries to suggestions that they use local starch rather
than wheat middlings to precipitate alumina. Various reasons were advanced to
explain why this change was not feasible. Local starches would block filters,
carry-over too far downstream in the process and impair the efficiency of
extraction. One cannot judge the validity of these objections without access to data
on actual trials with comparisons made between wheat middlings and local
starches. Surely, however, the fact that the process was patented in North America
and that there may be strategic advantages to the companies in using a North
American raw material also affect the choice of a starch for the process.
Even worse than resistance to local innovation is a tendency to believe that it
does not exist at all, or that if it exists, it is definitely inferior to the imported
variety. This ancient lack of self-confidence permeates even those institutions
which are supposed to be outside the control of the private sector. Thus, research
planning continues to reflect the colonial dependency of the economy in that
greater opportunities for innovation are offered to foreign research groups than to
local groups. The question is whether our research managers and the scientific
fraternity are serious about changing this state of affairs.
Clearly, there have been some important advances made by local scientists
but the situation demands more than improving the 'image' of the productive
scientists among us. It also demands more than placing a few scientists on advisory
boards. Increased effectiveness of scientific research and technological innovation
will not take place in the absence of reforms in the wider society, reforms such as
national control of natural resources.
The Psychology of Innovation
Although our scientists usually work for large organizations (Government,
Big Business or University) they are usually conscious of their relative isolation
brought about by fragmentation of the economy and bureaucratic barriers.
The typical academic scientist considers his most important contacts to be
those with members of his own discipline, sometimes a nebulous international
fraternity publishing its work in the same technical journals. This international
network confirms to the scientist the universality of his interests and keeps him in
touch with the research frontier. The sector of his research frontier may be
particularly narrow and his particular set of journals may be published by a society
in Europe or North America, hence colleagues with other specialist interests rarely
see his best efforts. He may therefore miss the reassurance of his own competence
coming from praise of his work by a respected colleague.
If his professional advancement depends on how many of his publications
have satisfied the dread editorial boards of metropolitan journals, there is the
temptation to perform exclusively for the prestigious audience, and to neglect the
local popular press or even Third World technical journals which lack the gloss of
Nobel Prize-winners in their letter-heads.3
In the United States, Price and Bass4 contended that publication in primary
journals rarely leads directly to technological innovation. Technological
innovation is here defined as the application of scientific discovery to a product or
process of widespread everyday use. Case studies of actual innovations reveal that
the most important stimulus to innovation was the explicit recognition of an
important need. In most cases the basic scientific knowledge required to solve the
problem existed before the dialogue between the users and creators of the
Such arguments have been used to support the conclusion that Third World
countries do not need and cannot afford basic research and that what we need are
practical answers to practical problems. So, a great deal of time is wasted in bitter
argument over an unreal dichotomy between pure and applied research between
men of thought and men of action. However, Price and Bass also point out that
interaction of a team of inventors with a "basic" researcher was an important factor
in more than half the cases of successful innovations studied. Unique ideas were
synthesised from unrelated areas of research and development by people having
access to a large number of original publications. Since the need for basic
information could not be programmed beforehand, the authors concluded that
undirected research was an essential part of the innovative process.
In our societies pure and applied science tend to be highly
compartmentalised. This has not prevented the occasional creative collaboration.
There have been attempts to form multi-disciplinary research teams in which
workers with different skills are expected to co-operate in solving a central
problem. The theory is that such teams promote mission-directed rather than
technique-directed research since the objective is to achieve common goals rather
than to extend the frontier of a particular. discipline. While the concept is
admirable, people who have tried to work such teams confess to difficulties in
achieving the necessary cohesion and co-ordination.
Usually, the individual scientist is under contract to his employer or to some
funding agency to produce answers to specific problems within a definite time.
The direction research takes is assumed to be mainly for the satisfaction of the
employer-client demands. Whether in teams or as individuals the scientists usually
manage to convince themselves that their work is relevant. I believe however that
relevance and efficiency in local scientific research could be improved by
systematic review and reform of:
(a) The process by which research goals are selected
(b) The composition of research teams
( c) The evaluation of research results
(d) The communication of research findings.
Selection of Goals
Decisions about the aims of research are usually taken by politicians,
business leaders or top bureaucrats, who then recruit a scientist of their choice.
Alternatively, a scientist will approach a source of funds with a research proposal.
In either case, the research goal is perceived as the result of the business leader's
judgement of a potential market or public-relations coup, or the scientist's
judgement of a profitable research line, yielding publications and consultantships.
Very rarely do business leaders and scientists see the same range of options, and
rarely do they use the same kinds of process to choose a project.
The first step in selecting a goal ought to be to define as clearly as possible
the widest range of options available by combining a systematic forecast of
business or social needs with an equally systematic forecast of technical
possibilities. In a competitive world, knowledge of the activities of competing
organizations is also relevant to the forecasting process. Social scientists are also
needed to help forecast the pressures and demands made by society on technology
and vice versa,(Swager).5 Especially in Government research we need the
organisational network to allow ordinary citizens to influence the statement of
options from among which important research policies will be chosen. If this were
done then the necessary technological revolution may proceed in a manner more in
keeping with the needs of the population.
Lack of appreciation of the potential contribution to research planning by
the lay public has led to considerable waste of time and effort particularly in
Often a politician or a highly placed Civil Servant on his travels abroad
encounters impressive crop varieties or livestock breeds and arranges to have them
tested at home. On government experimental farms impressive results may be
obtained with the new introductions out-performing their native counterparts,
traditionally selected for hardiness rather than for high yield. Yet when the new
variety or breed is taken to the ordinary farmer the results are far from
encouraging, usually because the high level of inputs required to make the new
material successful creates unacceptable cash outflows. Conflict arises because of
an attempt to change the farmer's highly evolved but apparently "inefficient"
management systems to fit the new variety. Far better would have been a scheme
of hybridisation to produce varieties both tolerant of traditional management
conditions yet with the potential to respond to "improved" management. The
Jamaica Hope breed of dairy cattle is an example of successful compromise
created by a distinguished local scientist.6
People planning research must therefore consult closely with the people
whom they intend to have the use of the results of their research, learning their
hopes, fears, tricks-of-trade, and what kinds of problems they expect researchers
to tackle. From this wide exposure of options, the research managers can select,
eliminate and synthesise options which provide a way to a feasible objective.
Choosing The Research Team
Different schools of thought exist about the way in which research teams
form, but experience suggests that they coalesce around a leading personality. The
trouble is that the business leader or bureaucrat who makes the decision on the
funding of research is likely to choose a different type of person from that chosen
by the scientific fraternity. Leadership in business and politics is often the
province of fixers and trouble-shooters rather than of production men
(Schumpeter)7 whereas among scientists it is the heavy reader with more than one
speciality who is most often, approached by colleagues for advice and criticism.
The choice is often so limited however, that all parties are relieved when someone
of adequate qualification appears ready to take the responsibility of leading.
The mark of the true professional is that he will choose to work with an
expert rather than with a friend of lesser talent. Thus expertise rather than
congeniality should dictate the choice of team-mates. This criterion should be
applied not only to the university graduate but also to the non-graduate technicians
who can play an extremely important role in the research group.
Surveys of intellectual style among science students (Cropley & Field)8
suggested that two types, divergers and convergers could be seen. Divergers are
original thinkers, skipping from point to point, while convergers were more
capable of disciplined concentration. Divergers would therefore be more useful
where there was a fast turn-over of short-term projects, while convergers would
yield better results on the long haul. Planning of the research team could include
aiming for an appropriate mix of divergers and convergers.
Mixture of youth and age has also been recommended. Pelz and Andrews 9
recognized that there were two peaks in creativity in the typical scientific career,
one in the late 30's and early 40's and the other 10-15 years later. The peak for
technological productivity came later than that for "pure" science, suggesting that
creative potential can be prolonged by switching from research to development at
the appropriate age. Therefore youth could be given more fundamental tasks and
age the broader developmental tasks.
We in the Third World also have to think about integrating the Foreign
Expert into our research teams. He often has to bear resentment from his local
colleagues because his ideas, synthesised by picking their brains in their isolated
bureaucratic compartments, so easily gain the ears of those in power. Also, if his
advice happens to be impolitic, he is not usually around to bear the consequences
of its implementation or non-implementation. The local expert is sometimes too
timid or too cunning to give impolitic advice. On a more positive note, the foreign
expert is often a bearer of a much needed skill, and a source of contacts with other
Third World scientists whom he meets on his diplomatic travels.
If the foreign expert is to make his proper contribution however, some
guidelines must be watched:
(a) He must supply a necessary skill and not merely be a figurehead to justify
use of funds.
(b) His public-relations associates should not attempt to make his work
appear all-important at the expense of the contribution by local team-mates.
) He should not be understudied indiscriminately, since the poor
understudy may become redundant as soon as the phase of work initiated by the
visitor is complete.
The most important factor in the success of a research team is the mutual
understanding between the members of the team of their common objective. Good
work has often come from teams with strong inter-personal loyalties. War also
imposes a stimulus of competitiveness against a perceived 'enemy', which can
produce a flood of innovation. Competitiveness against other research groups is
also claimed to be stimulating The discovery of the structure of the DNA molecule
is a prime example of such competitiveness. Perhaps unanswerable is the question
of how much conflict can coexist with creativity within the research team. We
must not forget too, that one man can be an effective multi-disciplinary team.
Evaluation of Research Results
Many a good idea has been killed by premature evaluation, and many a bad
idea has crept into innovation by escaping evaluation until it was too late. The art
of proper timing of evaluation belongs to the experienced research director. If he is
very bureaucratic, he will demand full documentation of aims, procedure, duration
and cost in the research proposal and will insist on regular monthly, quarterly or
half yearly reports. His regime does not allow for the conceptualisation process
which must occur before the researcher can state the beginning and probable
end-point of the task. Conceptualisation is often vague and exploratory, not
amenable to cost-benefit analysis and therefore a suspect activity to the
In the anti-bureaucratic regime, the worker has time to fiddle with crazy
ideas without having to defend them in quarterly reports. With no definite
objective and no set deadline to meet, he could be pursuing costly mirages or
finding serendipitous connections between hitherto separate areas of knowledge.
Such freedom is distasteful to those who have to account for expenditure.
A compromise is reached when the managers and accountants are convinced
by the scientists that profits and public-relations mileage will ensue and scientists
are convinced by management that they will still be able to produce original,
elegant work on a reduced budget. Evaluation should be self-imposed by the
conscientious scientist with the managers keeping only informal verbal contact
during the early stages of the work. Research reports should ideally mark
achievements and not just the passage of calendar periods. However, realities of
organisational budgets would seem to demand written reports at least annually.
No doubt some scientists find this kind of compromise irksome especially if
they reject the short-term aims of corporate profit or image in favour of more
humane goals. The reality is that absolute freedom in research is a myth, only
available to eccentric millionaires. Sanity demands some accommodation to
restrictions on research. The important requirement is that one should have some
reassurance of the justice of these restrictions.
Communication of Research Results
Scientists will always contend that knowledge knows no national
boundaries, and the resources being applied at most research frontiers will
continue to reflect the dominance of the metropolis for several years to come, so
the Third World scientist cannot wisely deny himself access to specialised
technical journals from the metropolis. But, he ought not to neglect to inform his
local colleagues of his work and where necessary to interpret a new body of
knowledge to the general public. There is need for a local popular Science Journal,
well illustrated and written in simple language to inform the general reader of the
efforts, failures and successes of local scientists. The most powerful medium of
exchange of ideas is face to face conversation. I must here enter a plea for greater
socialising among scientists and people interested in their work.
The labels of 'Secret' and 'Confidential' attached to a great deal of private
reports on scientific matters are completely unnecessary and obstructive. Often the
most important piece of information, the fact that work was done on a particular
subject, is no secret at all Few commodities have as high a rate of depreciation and
obsolescence as the secret research report. Scientists will have to explode this
myth of secrecy themselves and learn that there is usually more to gain than to lose
by free exchange of information. Facts which are trivial or commonplace to one
worker often become of central importance to another. .
To maintain communications with fellow scientists the researcher should be
I. Maintain membership in professional societies
2. Maintain subscriptions to journals
3. Travel to conferences and meetings
4. Attend courses to keep abreast of new knowledge.
It is important that these privileges be available to both junior and senior
scientists within an oganisation.
Finally, continued support for science depends on an aware and sympathetic
public opinion. The quality and range of scientific education in the community
will influence greatly the viability of the technological revolution needed to
overcome poverty, deprivation, ill-health and ignorance.
Local science and technology have lacked impact because of the dominance
of foreign technology, lack of native self confidence and prevalence of
bureaucratic barriers. Systematic forecasts of technical needs and opportunities
are needed for planned deployment of limited technical resources. Attention to
selection of goals, formation of teams, evaluation and communication of results
should provide improvements. But, the efforts of local scientists will fail if they
neglect the task of creating greater understanding and sympathetic attitudes to
science in the whole community.
* A Talk given to the Jamaican Union of Scientists and Technologists
(This essay appeared in Caribbean Quarterly, Vol. 20, No.2, June 1974)
1. Beckford, G, 1972: Persistent Poverty. SALISES, UWI, Mona.
2. Girvan, N. 1971: Foreign Capital and Economic Underdevelopment in Jamaica, ISER, UWI,
3. Anon 1972: "How Not to Run Research Councils (Indian style)" Nature 237 May 19.
4. Price, W.J. and Bass, L.W, 1969 "Scientific Research and the Innovative Process". Science 164,
5. Swager, W.L. 1969 "Technological Forecasting in Research and Development". Chern. Eng.
Prog. 6S (12) 39-46.
6. Lecky, T.P.
7. Schumpeter, J.A. 1942: Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. Harper and Row N.Y. p. 388
(3rd Ed. 1962)
8. Cropley, A.J. and Field, T.W. 1968 Intellectual Style and High School Science. Nature'March
9. Pelz, D.C. and Andrews, F.M. 1967 Scientists in Organisations. Wiley 318 pp.
A Clear Human Footprint in the Coral Reefs of
The human demographic expansion and associated increases in fishing,
nutrient loadings and ocean warming, compounded with environmental variables,
have been broadly debated to explain the increasing degradation of coral reefs
worldwide (Hughes 1994; Hoegh-Guldbcrg 1999; McCook 1999; Michcli 1999;
Jackson et al. 2001; Friedlander & DeMartini 2002; Hughes et al. 2003; Bellwood
et al. 2004; Gardner et al. 2005; Aronson & Precht 2006; Cinner & McClanahan
2006; Mumby et al. 2006; Lesser et al. 2007; Markey et al. 2007; Mora et al.
2007). As the intensity of human activities is expected to increase (Cohen 2003;
IPCC 2007), discriminating among stressors will be crucial to emphasize
conservation strategies and effectively reverse the degradation of coral reefs
(Palumbi 2005; Aronson & Precht 2006). Unfortunately, rigorous testing and
discrimination among possible causes have proved to be difficult and
controversial (e.g.Aronson et al. 2004; Grigg et al. 2005; Chapman et al.2006;
Mora et al. 2007).
Determining the actual drivers of coral reef degradation has been
challenging for several reasons. First, it is the fact that different ecological groups
of reef organisms may respond differently to the same stressors (e.g. Micheli1999;
Mumby et al. 2006). Therefore, while any given stressor may negatively impact
some groups of organisms, others may be positively affected or not affected at all.
This raises the need for a broad assessment of communities. Secondly, the results
of localized studies may not necessarily scale to an entire region (Levin 1992;
Guidetti & Sala 2007). It is known that the variation in a given response is usually
(almost always) larger at a regional scale than that between neighboring sites; as
a result the effect of certain factors may diminish, to the possible point of losing
their significance relative to other factors, when analysed at a regional scale (e.g.
Guidetti & Sala 2007). Moreover, at a fine scale, stochastic (random) phenomena
or local differences that complicate proper replication of results may make the
system of interest unpredictable (Levin 1992) and the results particularly prone to
type I errors (i.e. false positives; e.g. Guidctti & Sala 2007). The complications
described above highlight the need for the comprehensive assessment of coral reef
communities and the test of hypotheses using databases collected over large
Another difficulty in identifying the causality of stressors is the test of
hypotheses using standard analytical techniques. It is increasingly acknowledged
that most ecological data are prone to a lack of independence among sampled units
(or the effects of spatial auto-correlation) and co-variation among multiple
predictive variables (multi-collinearity). The former increases standard errors and
therefore inflates type I errors (Lichstein et al. 2002), whereas the latter may lead
to spurious correlations if not all potential variables are considered and if
inappropriate statistical tests are used (Graham 2003). Here we surveyed the status
of the most important groups of coral reef organisms (i.e. herbivorous and
carnivorous fishes, corals, macro algae) in locations broadly distributed in the
Caribbean Sea. We also used an extensive set of socioeconomic and
environmental variables and statistical approaches to deal with spatial
auto-correlation and multi-collinearity. This study represents one of the first
quantitative measurements of the relative role and scales of incidence of human-
and environment-related variables on coral reef health.
2. Material and Methods
(a) Biological data
All biological data were obtained from the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef
Assessment Project, which uses a consistent methodology to sample the status of
different coral reef communities all throughout the Caribbean (www.agraa.org).
In this paper, we used the surveys carried out in the shortest interval of consecutive
years that had the largest number of locations sampled to avoid temporal variations
in the guilds while increasing sampling size. In the light of the use of this interval,
our analysis has to be interpreted as a snapshot of the potential drivers of coral reef
change. The surveys used were those carried out between 1999 and 2001. Those
surveys were located in 322 reef sites belonging to 13 countries of the Caribbean
The sampling comprises the broad variety of sites that may be found in the
region like coastal, island and oceanic reefs with varying degrees of human
densities and exposure to environmental factors. Such a sampling is likely to
maximize statistical variation, and therefore provides a good proxy to assess the
general causes of coral reef change in the Caribbean. As we indicated above,
variation to a response is invariably larger on a regional scale. We only used data
from the sites located in the forereef in order to have a standard comparison among
sites. We also included species richness in the analyses to assess potential
variations in community structure along gradients of coral reef diversity. For each
coral reef community, we quantified the biomass of carnivorous and herbivorous
fishes, coral mortality and the abundance of macro algae and Diadema antillarum.
Figure I. Map of the Caribbean indicating the locations sampled. Filled circles,
(b) Environmental and socioeconomic data
For each of the locations sampled, we gathered data from a variety of
sources on human population density, area of cultivated land, coastal
development, effectiveness of marine protected areas (MPAs; i.e. an index that
combines the scores received by each MPA in its regulations about fishing, levels
of poaching, size and isolation; see the electronic supplementary material), sea
surface temperature, frequency and intensity of hurricanes, and chlorophyll
concentration. Here we expand the description of the socioeconomic variables,
whereas the extended details of all variables are shown in the electronic
It has been previously argued that it is not the number of people per se but
their activities (e.g. harvesting intensity, land use intensity) that lead to the
degradation of ecosystems (Sanderson et al. 2002). In most cases, however, the
number of people will correlate with the intensity of their activities which has been
the main reason to use human population density as the only surrogate to assess the
human effect. By doing so, however, the actual mechanism related to humans will
remain open to discussion. Here we used statistical tests that account for
collinearity among predictors (see below), which allowed us to test two potential
underlying mechanisms associated with humans: coastal development and
agricultural land use.
Coastal development is an index that incorporates accessibility (i.e. roads)
and electrical power, both of which are good surrogates for fishing pressure
because they facilitate the storage of fishing products and transportation to
external markets (Sanderson et al. 2002; Hughes et al.2003; Cinner
By contrast, the area of cultivated land leads to terrestrial run-offs such as
sedimentation, nutrients and agrochemical pollutants, all of which can affect
corals and macro algae (e.g. McCook 1999; Markey et al. 2007).
c) Statistical tests
Statistical tests give t and p values for the relationship between two factors,
the p value giving the (small) probability that the results were obtained by chance,
and the t values give the positive or negative correlation between the factors.
We used trend surface analysis to differentiate the spatial scales (i.e.
regional or local) at which any given independent variable exerted its effect. In
general terms, the trend surface analysis uses a third-order polynomial of the
geographical position of the sites, x, to describe the large-scale (or regional) trend
in the response variable, y (y=ax +bx2 +cx3-+d). The variation explained by a
given predictor that is also explained by the 'trend' is defined as the effect exerted
at the regional scale (i.e. regional component). The variation explained by the
predictor after partialling out the trend is defined as the local component. The
significance and direction of the relationships were quantified using a special
statistical technique, spatial regression analysis based on the simultaneous
auto-regressive models. These models were chosen to reduce type I errors due to
spatial auto-correlation (Lichstein et al. 2002), as was implied above. Other
techniques were also used to separate out local and regional effects, and to reduce
type I and type II errors These were the sequential Bonferroni method and
structural equation modelling.
Among the set of hypotheses tested here, those related to humans showed
the strongest effects on coral reefs at both small and large geographical scales. We
found that increases in the number of people were positively related to macro algae
abundance (t=-4.5, p<0.0001) and coral mortality (t=4.6, p<0.0001) and negatively
related to the biomass of herbivorous (t= -5.9, p<0.0001) and carnivorous (t--7.6,
p<0.0001) fishes. Our results indicate that coastal development showed their main
effect on the biomass of carnivorous fishes (t=--8.l,p<0.0001) and mortality of
corals (t=-5.2, p<0.0001, whereas the area of cultivated land near the reefs exerted
its main effect on macro algae abundance (t=-6.0, p<0.0001. It is important to note
that our results indicate that herbivorous fishes (t=-3, p0.01) and Diadema (t=
-4.9,p<0.001) are also significant drivers of macro algae abundance, although
their relative roles are smaller than that caused by cultivated land (t=-6.0,
The analysis of environmental variables indicated that warmer
environments have had higher coral mortality (t=3.6, p<0.0001 See appendices);
with a variation similarly distributed between local and regional scales. We also
found that increased temperature is related to reduced herbivore biomass (t= -2.3,
p<0.0 1), although most of this pattern occurred at the regional scale. The changes
in temperature did not affect macro algae or carnivore biomass. Chlorophyll (a
surrogate for productivity) only had a small effect on macro algae abundance and
no effect on the status of any other group. The number and intensity of hurricanes
showed no relationship with any of the studied groups. Surrogates for stress and
resilience such as coral diseases and coral richness showed no systematic
relationship with fish biomass, coral mortality or macro algae abundance. We
found no support for a region-wide effect of carnivores on Diadema densities as
had been previously reported in certain locations (McClanaham et al. 2002). We
presume, however, that this difference occurs because only a small subset of the
carnivorous species analysed here prey upon Diadema. Our results, however,
confirm the significance of several ecological links among the groups of
organisms studied. We found herbivorous fishes affecting the biomass of
carnivorous fishes and the abundance of macro algae and a reciprocal and negative
relationship between corals and macro algae. We also found that increased
carnivore biomass was related to reduced coral mortality. Finally, we found that
MPA effectiveness was related to reef sites with larger biomass of both
herbivorous (t-2.7, p<0.000 1); and carnivorous (t=-2.6, p<0.03) fishes but showed
no relationship with coral mortality (t--0.6, p=0.5) or macro algae abundance
Human population density per se may be the best surrogate of
anthropogenic impacts and has been previously related to the loss of bio-diversity
in terrestrial ecosystems (Forester & Machlis 1996; Brashares et al.2001). For
coral reefs, it has been argued that human density should not be related to coral
reef status, given that isolated areas often show symptoms of deterioration similar
to reefs near human settlements (Aronson &Precht 2006); however, until now an
actual test of the hypothesis has not been performed. In testing the human
population effect, we found that humans as in the terrestrial ecosystems have had
an effect on coral reefs. It is probable that the claim that coral reefs are not affected
by humans rests on few localized observations, which as indicated in the
introduction may lead to misleading conclusions. Additionally, there is a lack of
studies actually discriminating among the effects of contrasting hypotheses. As we
found here, there are several important drivers of coral reef mortality, which do not
disprove the human population effect. In regards to the scale of incidence of the
human effect, we found that the responses in all ecological groups to such an effect
occurred mostly over large geographical scale. This indicates a common response
of coral reefs and a broad effect of human settlements throughout the Caribbean,
which is not surprising considering that approximately 121 million people live
broadly distributed along the Caribbean coasts.
Explaining the human population effect for coral reefs is complex because it
may affect coral reef communities at different trophic nutritional levels via
different mechanisms (e.g. higher trophic groups may be more affected by fishing,
whereas lower trophic levels may be more affected by the terrestrial run-offs
associated with land use; Micheli 1999, Mumby et al. 2006). Indeed, we found that
coastal development, a surrogate for fishing pressure, has led to decreased fish
biomass, whereas cultivated land, a surrogate for terrestrial run-offs, has led to
increased macro algae abundance. We also found coastal development being
related to coral mortality, which may be explained by increased sewage, which is
particularly lethal to corals (note that these hypotheses are significant after
controlling for the potential effect of collinearity among predictors).
The causes of variation in macro algae abundance have been broadly
debated between those caused by herbivory and those caused by nutrients and/or
terrestrial run-offs (e.g. Hughes 1994 versus Lapointe 1999). Our results support
the idea of a simultaneous and significant effect of both, although they also
indicated that terrestrial run-offs have a relatively stronger effect. Our argument to
explain this result is as follows. It has been found that herbivores may not be able
to cope with increases in macro algae beyond a given threshold of macro algae
coverage (see Williams & Polunin 2001). For the Caribbean, increasing coral
mortality (e.g. Gardner et al. 2003) has probably opened large areas of substrate
for algae growth, which may be surpassing the threshold of herbivory control.
This, in turn, may be allowing another factor such as terrestrial run-offs to drive
macro algae abundance. Furthermore, such a threshold of herbivory control may
be particularly low for the Caribbean, given the diminished populations of
herbivores since historical times (see Pandolfi et al. 2003).
Climate change is regarded as one of the major threats to the future of coral
reefs (Hoegh-Guldberg 1999; Hughes et al. 2003), being incontrovertibly evident
during regional- to global-scale episodes of coral bleaching when temperature
increases only by a few degrees (Hoegh-Guldberg 1999). We found that reef sites
in warmer environments indeed have had higher coral mortality. We also found
that the net effect of temperature was evenly distributed between the local and
regional scales. This suggests that temperature has a similar effect on reefs
throughout the region, although there is an intrinsic local variation in this factor
(perhaps due to local hydrodynamics) to which coral reefs are also responsive.
This later result indicates that MPAs can gain benefits by spatially avoiding the
effects of ocean warming (see West & Salm 2003). We also found that temperature
was negatively related to the biomass of herbivorous fishes. Negative
relationships between herbivore biomass and temperature have been described
previously and attributed to thermo-physiological constraints in herbivores (i.e. it
seems that the digestion of macro algae may be restricted by temperature, which
may impose geographical limitations in the distribution of herbivores, e.g. Floeter
et al. 2005). The fact that the herbivore response to temperature occurred almost
completely at the regional scale supports the existence of such a biogeographical
Diadema antillarum was once an abundant and widely distributed grazer in
the Caribbean (Lessios 2005). The phase shift, from coral to algae dominance, in
the Caribbean reefs after the Diadema die-offs in the early 1980s is one of the best
documented examples of the keystone role of grazing on coral reefs (Lessios
2005). In the Caribbean, the recovery of Diadema has been spatially variable,
perhaps due to hydrodynamic processes underlying the supply of propagules to
benthic populations (Lessios 2005). Until 2000, the average density of Diadema in
the sampled sites was 0.06 individuals m-2 (s.d=0.), which is relatively similar to
more recent surveys (0.02 individuals m-2; Newman et al. 2006) but lower by
orders of magnitude than the densities prior to their die-off in the 1980s (1-10
individuals m-2; Lessios 2005). Despite their diminished populations, Diadema
densities were significantly correlated with macro algae abundance. Reduced
macro algae where Diadema was more abundant is very likely a response to
grazing. Our structural equation model indicates that the interaction between coral
mortality and macro algae abundance is significant in both directions, which in
turn highlights the potential for Diadema to facilitate the recovery of reefs by
reducing the negative effect of macro algae on corals.
MPAs are among the main approaches implemented for the conservation of
coral reefs (Hughes et al. 2003; Bellwood et al. 2004; Mora et al. 2006) and have
been shown to have positive effects on different groups of fishes (Cote et al. 2001;
Gell & Roberts 2003; Guidetti & Sala 2007). In support of this, we found that the
effectiveness of MPAs in the Caribbean has been related to larger biomass of both
herbivorous and carnivorous fishes, although MPAs showed no effect on the
mortality of corals and abundance of macro algae. As we have shown before,
among the main drivers of coral mortality were temperature and potentially
sewage from coastal development. As far as we know, the regional network of
MPAs in the Caribbean has not been designed to account for the effects of
warming and many do not control external threats such as sewage (e.g. Mora et al.
2006), which may explain their general failure to prevent coral mortality. A recent
localized study (Mumby et al. 2006) found that the variation in herbivore biomass
between an MPA and neighboring non-protected sites was sufficient to cause a
significant variation in macro algae abundance between protected and unprotected
sites. By extending the spatial scale of study, we found that at a regional scale,
existing MPAs in the Caribbean do not lead to significant variations in macro
algae biomass. The contrasting results between our study and that by Mumby et al.
(2006) may be explained, in part, by differences in scale between the studies.
In support of our result, it should be mentioned that cultivated land, which
was the main driver of macro algae abundance, remains largely uncontrolled by
most MPAs of the Caribbean. In summary, our results indicate the positive effect
of enforcing reductions in fishing pressure on fish populations and also that the
stressors responsible for variations in macro algae abundance and coral mortality
remain poorly, if at all, controlled inside MPAs. Although our results indicate that
fishes will gain benefits from increasing effective MPA coverage in the region,
they also show that in addition to fishing other human impacts need to be managed
Unfortunately, failure to account for threats that affect corals and macro
algae may ultimately defeat the results of MPAs on fish populations. This will
occur because many fishes depend on the coral reef matrix, and so they can be at
risk in the long term due to uncontrolled threats degrading coral reefs inside MPAs
(see also Jones et al. 2004).
Other factors analysed in this study including hurricanes and surrogates for
stress and resilience such as coral diseases and coral diversity showed no
relationship with fish biomass, coral mortality or macro algae abundance.
For the Caribbean, recent meta-analyses on the effect of hurricanes showed
not only that coral reefs are capable of fast recovery but also that in recent times
coral declines have been similar between reef areas with and without hurricanes,
indicating that other stressors are having more pervasive consequences on coral
reefs (Gardner et al. 2005).
The idea that pathogens cause direct mortality of corals has been challenged
by the alternative that more chronic stressors (e.g. those anthropogenic in nature)
cause physiological stress that leaves corals vulnerable to infections by
opportunistic pathogens (Lesser et al. 2007). Thus, it is possible that the effects of
diseases can be a consequence rather than a cause of the degradation of coral reefs.
Intriguingly, we also found that sites with high carnivore biomass had
significantly lower coral mortality. Although it has been previously suggested that
the loss of coral reefs will reduce the biomass of fishes ( Jones et al. 2004), our
structural equation model indicated that carnivore biomass reduced coral
mortality. It is possible that carnivore biomass triggers an indirect mechanism
increasing the survival of coral reefs (i.e. high carnivore biomass is a good
predictor of intact ecosystems, which are more resistant to stressors and diseases).
However, it is also possible that both carnivores and corals are casually correlated
because they are strongly affected by common factors.
Human settlements have been inevitably accompanied by the changes in
land use and exploitation of natural resources which have caused widespread and
profound changes in the structure of coral reef communities.
The increasing production of greenhouse gases to supply an increasing
demand for energy is also leading to increases in temperature (IPCC 2007), which
causes bleaching and coral mortality and indirectly threatens other reef organisms
as the coral reef matrix becomes degraded.
The expected increase in human population from 6 billion people today to 9
billion for the year 2050 (Cohen 2003) and a probable 1.8-48C temperature
increase over the same time period (IPCC 2007) suggest that coral reefs are likely
to witness a significant ecological crisis in the coming half century.
Fortunately, the solutions are already available, which include:
the use of enforced no-take MPAs definitely complemented with
strategies to regulate the effects of land use
international commitment to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases
the implementation of strategies to reduce or stabilize the ultimate cause
of all these stressors, the world's human population.
I thank all researchers who collaborated with the fieldwork.
Funding was provided by the Caribbean Environmental Program of the United Nations
Environmental Program, the Bacardi Family Foundation, National Geographic, the
Hachette-Filipacchi Foundation, the Ocean Research and Education Foundation, the
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Coral Health and
Monitoring Program, American Airlines and the Sloan Foundation through the
Future of Marine Animal Populations project.
I thank Robert Ginsburg, Boris Worm, Philip Kramer, Jana McPherson and Judith Lang
for their comments on the manuscript.
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*Repoduced and adapted from Proc. R. Soc. B (2008) 275,
767-773,doi:10.1098/rspb.2007.1472, (Published online 8 January 2008), with
kind permission of The Royal Society and the author.
APPENDIX Diagrammatic Representations of the results of statistical and
*1 11. +-
Fraction of Variance Explained
Spatial fractioning of the variance in the different guilds accounted for by
different factors. (a) Macroalgae, (b) coral mortality, (c) herbivore biomass, (d)
carnivore biomass. Differentiation between localized and regional variances was
calculated by introducing a spatial trend (i.e. a third-order polynomial of the
geographical position of the locations) into the regression model. Regional
variation (black bars) was the variation accounted for by the predictor that was also
accounted for by the spatial trend. Localized variation (white bars) was the
variation accounted for by the predictor after partialling out the trend. Tests of
significance of each regression were calculated using spatially autoregressive
models to control for spatial autocorrelation. The t-values are shown only for those
regressions that were significant. The t-values with an asterisk indicate values that
remained significant after sequential Bonferroni adjustment of the p-values (see
next page for extended details).
F -inrrdlurN --
iTrmjl .nl.. j
Confirmatory structural equation model of the links analysed in this study.
We used structural equation modelling to confirm the significance of
relationships while controlling for co-linearity among predictors. The
relationships or links (all arrows) were incorporated into the models based on the
independent analysis of the variables and our understanding of ecological
communities and their interaction with the environment. Levels of significance
were established at p
measure to adjust for increased type I errors due to preconceived incorporation of
parameters. Significant negative relationships are shown in red and significant
positive relationships in blue. We created two latent variables for the human
effect: coastal development (i.e. roads and electricity) and area of cultivated land.
We assume that both variables are related via human density and so we included a
correlation link between the two variables in the model.
t human puoi4 lla4n "
Cni-laI drbfkrlTK'fr |
A journey through the Medicinal Plant
Industry of the Caribbean highlighting Mona's
SYLVIA A. MITCHELL, RANI-DEVI JAGNARINE, RAXON
SIMMONDS, TAJA FRANCIS, DAVID PICKING AND
MOHAMMED H. AHMAD
The Caribbean hosted 18,081,199 visitors in 2007, and this figure does not
include those who took vacations within their own islands. For Jamaica, more
visitors came in 2007 than there were residents. While a few of these trips are
taken for business, most are taken for pleasure. In fact, tourism accounts for over
21 per cent of all Caribbean capital formation while comparable figures are
Oceania (13%) and North America/Europe (10%). A large part of the draw of the
Caribbean is its extensive and often unique flora; and it is this flora which has been
a source of health and wealth for the Caribbean for a very long time.
Unfortunately, at the same time that the Caribbean is a tourism haven, it is
also a bio-diversity hotspot. A 'hotspot' is a relatively small region containing a
high percentage of endemic species that are in danger of extinction. In fact, the
Caribbean region is one of the "hottest hotspots" as it contains 2.3 % and 2.9% of
the world's flora and fauna, respectively, on only 0.15% of the Earth's surface
(Myers et al 2000), and only 11.3% of the Caribbean's primary vegetation
remains. Nevertheless, more than 30% of the higher plant species presently in the
Caribbean are endemic. These findings have prompted Conservation International
to designate the Caribbean among the top 8 of the world's 25 "hotspots" across the
globe. The endemic species of Jamaica alone are an estimated 28% of the
flowering plants (800 of 3000), 14% of the ferns (82 of 597), 18% of the birds (20
of 113) and 15% of the bats (3 of 20), to name a few. It is against this backdrop that
journey through the Medicinal Plant Industry of the Caribbean will take place,
travelling from the world-wide industry, into the Caribbean, to Jamaica, then to the
University of the West Indies (UWI), the Biotechnology Centre (BTC) and finally
to the activities of the Medicinal Plant Research Group (MPRG).
Photo 1. Work begins on the Herbal Garden, Biotechnology Centre
' WIWtWIf I 'Wi
Photo 2. The completed Herbal Garden, Biotechnology Centre
Photo 3. Pineapple plantlets in Photo 4. pineapple one month after
growth room transfer
Photo 5. Farmers Taking Measurements
Photo Farmers Taking Measurements Photo 6. Pineapple: The end product at
in the field. 15 months.
4- shoot axis
4- root axis
Photo 7. A somatic embryo of Ackee
Photo 8. Yellow (left) and
Blue(right) Jamaican ginger
Photo 10. Sprouted Jsamaican Tumeric
ready for initiation
Photo 9. Ginger Plantlets in culture
Photo 11. Tumeric Plantletsin the
Photo 12. Aloe in vitro plantlets
Photo 13. Tranditional Aloe plants (in
dark green and red pots). Six month
aloe plant after transfer from in vitro
culture (in front pot)
Photo 14. Sarsaparilla roots
Photo 15 Smilax regelii Plantlets
Photo 16 Smilax rgelii Plantlets in
World-wide Medicinal Plant Industry
The world-wide medicinal plant industry is very profitable. The global trade
in herbals has an estimated value of US $14 billion, with trade in the dried plants
exceeding US $800 million while the trade in herbal extracts and semi-finished
raw materials (e.g. powders) exceeding US $ 8 billion (Caribbean Herbal
Business 2008). The main produce areas include Pharmaceuticals (medicinal and
aromatic plants, saps, extracts, and vegetable alkaloids), Culinary Spices and
Herbs, Cosmetics and Nutraceutials. The extracts (essential oils) from aromatic
plants (those that have a nice smell) are used as fragrances for such products as
perfumes, soaps, lotions and sprays, which are then used in spas. Many of these
essential oils, as well as smelling nice, have medicinal and wellness properties.
Thus pimento and lemon grass oils are used to kill fungus infections and basil,
cinnamon and grapefruit oils are used for mental fatigue and lethargy'. Plants used
for culinary purposes include herbs (green, fresh such as garlic, onions, scallions,
sage, basil) and spices (e.g. ginger, nutmeg, pimento); these also are used for
medicinal purposes such as turmeric as an antioxidant and anti-cancer agent, and
ginger for nausea. Nutraceuticals are foods with medicinal value such as guava
fruit for its high vitamin C content or tomatoes for their high lycopene content.
Other medicinal plants are used for specific illness or condition such as aloe for
buns, Echinacea for colds, or spirit weed as an anti-worm treatment. The
Wellness Industry (which includes all the above components) is projected to reach
US $1 trillion per annum by 2010 (Pilzer 2002: 30). The Caribbean is a young
partner in this world-wide industry.
Caribbean Medicinal Plant Industry
The Caribbean is comprised of over 25 main Islands and several countries
which have a Caribbean shore-line; the bio-diversity of the area is staggering.
Even though most of the wild forested areas were cleared for sugar plantations and
for its store of mahogany and cedar, the use of endemic, native and indigenous
bio-diversity has been a source of healing for every generation. This wealth of
knowledge has been accumulating with every generation as new folk uses are
found for endemic, indigenous and imported bio-diversity. Many of these
ethnomedicinal uses of our bio-diversity are unique to the Caribbean, and to its
component countries. Every island of the Caribbean has at least one book about its
herbs and there are many websites. The peoples of the Caribbean over the years
have found cures, brought cures (and plants) with them and developed cures. For a
long time, however, scientific study of this knowledge was absent and even now is
inadequate although several important medical cures have originated from
Several, if not all, Caribbean Islands have traditionally used plants for health
care. The Traditional Medicine of the Islands (TAMIL2) is a testimony to this
history. Launched in 1982, the goal of the TAMIL research network is to 'provide
scientifically proven alternatives to patent drugs, which are becoming scarcer and
more expensive due to increasing poverty and dwindling foreign currency
reserves' (IDRC3). 'The network which recognizes that many rural people are
more familiar with medicinal plants aims to ensure the safety, efficacy, and
accessibility of natural medicines. The TAMIL approach involves surveying rural
populations to find out which plants are used most often by mothers to deal with
common family illnesses, such as skin conditions, diarrhoea, and other
gastrointestinal problems. For each plant, researchers examine the benefits,
chemical make-up, and potential dangers; determining which are safe, which are
toxic, and which need further study. So far, the TAMIL team which includes
scientists in more than 18 different island and mainland countries has evaluated
over 150 medicinal plants. The results have been disseminated in a variety of
forms including the Caribbean Pharmacopeia (which provides detailed
information on plants or parts of plants and their uses); pamphlets, videos, music,
dance, puppet shows, and community meetings' (IDRC). TAMIL surveys so far
have been done in Antigua, Barbados, Belize, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba,
Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica,
Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, St. Vincent and Venezuela.
TAMIL operates in three languages Spanish, French and English. TRAMIL's
mission is to scientifically validate the traditional uses of medicinal plants for
primary health care. Its vision is to be the reference interdisciplinary program in
the detection, validation and diffusion of the uses of medicinal plants that impact
The Caribbean Herbal Business and Science Forum held in Jamaica in 2002
was an important development; it culminated in the formation of the Caribbean
Herbal Business Association (CHBA4). At this Forum, Europe expressed their
interest in Caribbean herbs and this helped fuel the further development of nascent
medicinal plant enterprises throughout the Caribbean. The CHBA now has
chapters in nine Caribbean countries Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana,
Haiti, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago. Country reports of
the Medicinal Plant Industry in several of these countries are available5. Several
Caribbean herbal companies are associated with the CHBA (see.:
herbalcluster.com/). There are an estimated 100 herbal enterprises in the
Caribbean with at least twenty plants of commercial importance being traded and
used in the Caribbean (Caribbean Herbal Business 2008). A variety of products
are being produced including medicinal products (cannasol, amasol, cough
syrups), for example, herbal cosmetics (soaps, lotions, creams), wellness products
(sprays, spa products), root tonics and nutraceuticals. There are also several other
institutions in the Caribbean that are interested in medicinal plants
We travel next to Jamaica to discuss its contribution in more detail.
Jamaica's Medicinal Plant Industry
There are several reasons for Jamaica's continuing interest in its medicinal
plant bio-diversity: Jamaica possesses the ideal conditions for cultivation of a wide
variety of medicinal herbs, and it is estimated that 60% of the world's major
medicinal herbs currently grow on the island. Add to this the world-renowned
reputation of several Jamaican botanical products such as its Blue Mountain
Coffee, Sorrel and Ginger and you can see the reason for the interest and
continuing growth of the Jamaican herbal industry. The most complete review of
Jamaica's medicinal plant industry (Mitchell et al 20076) lists at least 30
companies with the range of products being similar to those listed previously for
the Caribbean as a whole but with Jamaica producing most of the root tonics. To
date 334 plants growing in Jamaica have been identified as medicinal (Mitchell
and Ahmad 2006) with the unofficial list being 366 (Mitchell unpublished). The
medicinal plant industry in Jamaica is supported by a consortium of research
institutions and government agencies as described in the Jamaica Country Report
(Mitchell et al 2007). Scientific research into Jamaica's medicinal plants has the
longest history at the University of the West Indies (UWI) where research started
from its inception in 1948. We travel next to UWI to summarize its contribution.
University of the West Indies
The University of the West Indies has been involved with natural product
research since its inception in 1948, which began in the Chemistry Department. A
review of medicinal plant research at UWI from 1948 to 2001 indicates that of the
334 identified medicinal plants 13% of these are endemic to Jamaica and another
50% are restricted to the Americas. 193 plants were studied with the endemics
having more bio-activity (23%) than the non-endemics (11%). Phytochemicals
were identified in 44 plants, and 29 of these chemicals were found to be
bio-active. The most potent plants tended to exhibit multiple bio-activities such as
John Charles (Hyptis verticillata), neem (Azadirachta indica), shame-mi-lady
(Mimosa pudica), breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis), kidney bush (Bontia
daphnoides), ackee (Blighia sapida) and spirit weed (Eryngium foetidum)
(Mitchell and Ahmad, 2006a).
Several research groups at UWI are continuing to undertake medicinal plant
research including but not limited to the Chemistry Department, Basic Medical
Science Department (Pharmacology and Molecular Biology Sections), Life
Science Department, the Biotechnology Centre and the Natural Products Institute
[NPI] (see http://www.mona.uwi.edu/ for more details). Each of these research
groups has a different expertise with the Biotechnology Centre concentrating on
applying biotechnological tools such as tissue culture, microbiology and
molecular genetics to medicinal plant research and development. We travel next to
the Biotechnology Centre to review the work undertaken there and discuss the
potential of these activities for expanding the Jamaican medicinal plant industry
and how it can contribute to Caribbean development.
The mission of the Biotechnology Centre, established in 1989, is to develop
the research capabilities of professional scientists in the area of Biotechnology to
find solutions to health, food, agriculture and environmental problems that affect
the Caribbean and Latin American region. In the last five academic years
(2002-2007) the staff and students of the Biotechnology Centre have published
more than 40 research papers in scientific journals, monographs and books
including a special issue on biotechnology in the Jamaica Journal of Science &
Technology in 2003. Additionally, more than 90 papers were presented at local
and international conferences with several more articles in magazines and
newspapers (Mitchell 2002, 2005, Mitchell and Ahmad 2006, Mitchell and
Jagnarine 2007, Mitchell et al 2008).
The activities of the Biotechnology Centre presently revolve around four
research groups: Molecular Plant Pathology, Molecular Virology, Root and
Tuber; and Medicinal Plant Research Groups. Currently there are 26 graduate
students who have their main supervisor and research laboratory in the Centre. The
rest of this review will concentrate on the activities of the Medicinal Plant
Medicinal Plant Research Group (MPRG)
The MPRG was initiated in 1999, and a review of its activities up to 2006 is
available (Mitchell 2005a, Mitchell and Ahmad 2007) so only more recent
activities not discussed in that review are reviewed here. The MPRG was initiated
in order to provide an avenue through which biotechnology could be utilised to
harness the potential of Jamaican-grown medicinal plants for health and wealth.
The work of the MPRG, including those activities described below, has been
designed to be a careful mix of post-graduate research to produce competent
scientists with new biotechnological skills, development of new biotechnological
products (such as neem disinfectant) for the market-place, training of farmers and
community members to utilise these new biotechnological advances (such as
availability of tissue culture plantlets) and conservation of important medicinal
plant germplasm, with associated information gathering and dissemination of
relevant and accurate scientific information of key medicinal plants.
This has been an ongoing activity of the MPRG since 2003. An updated
questionnaire being used in 2008 incorporates the methodology of TAMIL except
that both the mothers and fathers are questioned because it is recognized that in
Jamaica, at least, many recipes are known and administered by the father only
(Picking et al unpublished). During 2003-7, many communities in Jamaica have
been surveyed and many hundreds of recipes, for over a hundred plants, have been
collected. Short recipes (folk uses) for 30 plants have been published (Mitchell
and Ahmad 2006b) and a database is being developed which will also be
incorporated into the Caribbean-wide TAMIL database. No similar recording of
our medicinal heritage is available making this a very valuable resource to be
saved, protected and sustainably used for our benefit. The use of herbs among the
Jamaican population has been collected by UTECH Pharmacy students of the
Herbal Elective (co-taught by the MPRG and NPI) for several conditions
including diabetes, hypertension, insomnia, prostrate cancer, menstrual pain, yeast
infection in women, and premature ejaculation in men.
Gene bank development:
Medicinal plants obtained from various habitats throughout Jamaica have
been placed into gene banks at the Biotechnology Centre in a Herbal Garden (See
Photos 1 and 2, p.28) and at Hope Gardens (Medicinal Tree Grove) with a small
showcase of medicinal plants established at the Institute of Jamaica. These gene
banks are good educational tools, some visitors seeing the plants for the first time,
and are a source of material for further research (chemical and biotechnological)
rather than returning to the forest thus protecting the forest. This gene bank is also
being used to generate a botanical reference which will include the plant's
scientific and common names, a picture of the actual plant and its herbarium
sample, a sketch, its folk recipes and associated scientific information.
A neem disinfectant has been developed that passes the Jamaica Bureau of
Standard's requirements for a commercial disinfectant. The antimicrobial
(bacteria/fungi) (Delahayc et al 2008 a,b) and nematicidal activity of several
plants is also being studied. These agricultural and medicinal products will be
registered with the relevant authorities and will then be available in the
marketplace thus earning money for Jamaicans.
Provision of elite planting material for farmers through tissue culture :
In order to harness the potential of our agricultural products, for example,
pineapple, ackee and medicinally important plants, elite planting material is
required. Since some of these plants are being placed into cultivation for the very
first time, micropropagation is a very suitable method to produce large quantities
of these elite varieties. In essence, micropropagation entails initiating plant shoots
or buds into in vitro conditions (in glass containers where a suitable sterilized plant
media is placed) and multiplying them under controlled conditions in a growth
room. (see photos 3, 4, p.29)
Optimising the media to maximise shoot and root growth for each plant
species is undertaken in a series of experiments while certification of the plantlets
free from microbes is done before distribution to farmers.
So far we have distributed over 1200 certified microbe-free aloe, ginger,
turmeric, and pineapple plantlets to farmer groups in St. Catherine and the Cockpit
Country. In the process, we have trained over 80 farmers to harden the plantlets
and several have been trained to take field data (Photo 5, p 29). The farmers are
excited about the yield from the pineapple plantlets (Photo 6, p.29 ) they have
harvested and are asking for more. It is hoped that these farmers will eventually
buy plantlets from a commercial tissue culture facility that is being planned and
will have to be established in order to produce sufficient amounts of this elite
Tissue culture of Trees are increasingly being propagate by a method of
tissue culture called somatic embryogenesis. Somatic embryos (Photo 7, p.29) can
be produced from plant cells that do not normally produce seeds when responsive
plant material is placed under specific in vitro conditions, just like the zygotic
embryo in a seed, somatic embryos possess the root axis which grows into the tap
root, thus allowing the resultant trees to resist drought and adverse conditions
such as hurricanes. The aim of this research is to develop somatic embryogenic
systems with high throughput and high genetic fidelity for economically important
trees (Webster et al 2006). so far, we have produced somatic embryos from elite
trees to produce a variety suitable for the market for example, an ackee with good
canning properties with low hypoglycin content from high yielding trees.
In vitro production of secondary metabolites:
This technology, which is also called biofarming, is used to produce
secondary metabolites in vitro. For guinea hen weed, which produces a bio-active
anti cancer chemical, the somatic embryos that were produced in vitro had a higher
percentage of the bio-active compound than the wild-grown plants (Webster et al
2007, 2008). This means that secondary metabolites can be economically farmed
in vitro and then purified for sale. Although there is still a long way to go to make
this technology commercially viable, since it is being used in other countries, and
is suited for small countries, it worth developing in the Caribbean. Biofarming,
when fully developed, can be used to economically produce key biochemicals
without the attendant costs and frustrations of farming while utilizing skilled
scientists to open up a completely new industry for the Caribbean on less land
space a big advantage for the small island developing states (SIDS) of the
The marketplace requires knowledge of medicinal plant constituents of
reaped plants (whether farmed or gathered from the wild) before entering into
contracts with farmers/wildcrafters (Mitchell et al 2008). This is being facilitated
by the development of plant monographs that detail the mineral, microbial,
biochemical and bioactive components of marketable products produced under
typical farming/wildcrafting conditions in the country. The development of
monographs for several medicinal plants are being produced and disseminated by
the MPRG. During the process of gathering data on the growth and phytochemical
constituents of these medicinal plants, and the development of tissue culture
protocols, several graduate students are being trained. The availability of these
monographs should help in the expansion of the medicinal plant industry in
Jamaica, and by extension, the Caribbean.
Feasibility studies and farmer training:
For the communities desirous of growing medicinal plants, Farmer Groups
are encouraged and assisted with their development by the MPRG. In order to
encourage medicinal and aromatic plant activities starting with farming/wild
crafting of tissue cultured plantlets to marketing of value-added products,
feasibility studies in Charles Town, Portland, Jamaica, and New Crop training
sessions to over 500 community members have been undertaken with meetings in
several communities in over eight parishes (St. Andrew, Portland, St. Mary,
Montego Bay, St. Elizabeth, St. Thomas, St. Catherine and Cockpit Country)
between 2004 and 2008. Such scientific support is necessary to ensure this sector
grows properly. (Mitchell 2006)
Interaction with farmers, value-added producers and marketers is crucial for
the transfer of new agricultural technology, and the transfer of 'new'
biotechnologies is no exception. The MPRG has provided training to over 150
rural folk: community members and farmers were identified and trained to assist
with the ethno-botanical surveys, hardening of micropropagated plantlets and
associated data-taking, to mention a few topics. The information gathered from
the communities and from the surveys was then linked to information from
processors and marketers as to which plants the market was interested in and thus,
which plants are being prioritized by the MPRG.
The range of the various activities as described above may seem disparate
and unconnected but have been carefully chosen to expand the medicinal plant
industry in Jamaica. What we have learnt can be replicated throughout the
Caribbean. Many of the activities are not primary research activities, but require
analysis of research done elsewhere and also require much interaction not only
with farmer groups but with NGOs, funding organizations and government
agencies. Experience has shown that for micropropagation to become a
commercial propagation tool, demand for the plantlets has to be built by working
with the farmers so they can see the potential of the plantlets (which are very small)
but also requires working with the market to build demand for the ensuing harvest
or else farmers will not take on new crops, especially those that need scientific
input to develop a sustainable and economically competitive product.
To date, six farmer groups: in Charles Town, Portland; Glengoffe, St.
Catherine; Dallas, St. Andrew; and three LFMCs (Local forestry management
communities) in the Cockpit Country have most benefitted from the work of the
MPRG. They have hardened and planted over 1,200 certified plantlets of aloe,
ginger, pineapple, sarsaparilla and tumeric, and have reaped pine from the
micro-propagate pineapples. Presently we are establishing five rural hardening
facilities so they can receive more plantlets.
As can be seen from the above, development and training are needed to take
biotechnology from the University to the wider community, but, if carefully and
thoughtfully done, the application of this technology can result in sustainable and
competitive industries, thus, changing rural communities and influencing the
Medicinal and Economically-important Plants being studied by the
Ackee, Blighia sapida
(Mitchell et al 2008, Webster et al 2006);
Aloe, Aloe vera
(Mitchell and Jagnarine 2007; Jagnaine et al 2008);
Arrowroot, Maranta arundinacea;
Bottle brush, Callistemon viminalis;
Chainy root, Smilax balbasiana;
Ginger, Zingiber officinale;
Guinea hen weed, Petiveria alliacea
(Webster et al 2007, Webster et al 2008, Mitchell et al 2008);
Neem, Azadirachta indica
(Mitchell et al 2003);
Pepper Elder, Piper almalgo;
Pineapple, Ananas comosus;
Sarsaparilla, Smilax regelii
(Francis et al 2008);
Spirit Weed, Erygniumfoetium
(Denton et al 2008);
Turmeric, Curcuma longa
(Green et al 2008, Simmonds et al 2008 a,b).
For the rest of this paper, Ginger, Turmeric, Aloe, and Sarsaparilla will be
described in more detail as these are medicinal plants with high potential in the
market that are also amenable to propagation through tissue culture. Ginger,
Turmeric and Aloe are vegetatively propagated and are traditionally multiplied by
using suckers or dividing the rhizome into smaller portions which are then planted.
This method of propagation ensures that any pathogens on the mother rhizome or
shoot are carried over to the daughter generations. Sarsaparilla roots are obtained
wild from the forests of Jamaica but demand has so out-stripped supply that the
wild stock of plants is in danger of disappearing.
Ginger (Zingiber officinalis):
Carminative (relaxes intestinal muscle & sphincters)
Antiemetic (reduces nausea & vomiting)
Peripheral circulatory stimulant
Spasmolytic (reduces or relieves smooth muscle spasm)
Antiplatelet (reduces risk of blood clots)
Diaphoretic (promotes sweating & reduces fever)
Digestive stimulant (stimulates function of gastrointestinal organs)
Motion sickness (prevents nausea & vomiting)
Treatment of post operative nausea
Osteoarthritis (degenerative condition affecting weight bearing joints)
Fever, the common cold
Dysmenorrhoea (painful periods) (Bone 2003: 227)
Ginger is the main medicinal plant of Jamaica where it is being used as a
spice, nutraceutical, functional food and medicinal plant. At least two main
varieties of ginger (Photo 8.p. 30) can be found. Ginger was first introduced into
Jamaica around 1525 by the Spaniards and, by 1547, export reached 1,200 tonnes
Unfortunately, ginger production in Jamaica has been affected by the
rhizome rot disease: a rhizome-borne and soil-borne disease caused mainly by
fungi and nematodes, so that in 1999, export was down to two tonnes. The
micropropagated gingers we have produced, and are disseminating to farmers for
field testing, are certified rhizome-rot free (Photo 9, p.30). Ginger has a wide range
of useful phytochemicals whose key actions have been confirmed by many
scientific and clinical studies (Bone 2003). With disease-free elite planting
material and optimum cultivation methods, ginger production can increase
Turmeric (Curcuma longa):
Antioxidant (protects against oxidation and free radical damage)
Hypolipidemic (reduces blood lipid levels e.g. cholesterol and triglycerides)
Cholcretic (increases the production of bile from the liver)
Antimicrobial (Inhibits the growth or destroys microorganisms)
Antitumor (Activity against malignant tumour cells)
Carminative (relaxes intestinal muscle & sphincters)
Depurative (aids detoxification & elimination)
Adjuvant therapy for pre-cancerous conditions
Rheumatoid arthritis (chronic inflammatory condition affecting joints and
Hypercholesterolemia (High levels of LDL cholesterol) (Bone 2003: 436)
Turmeric was first introduced to Jamaica in 1783 and now grows wild in
many parishes. The main turmeric-growing parishes in Jamaica are Hanover,
Westmoreland, St. James, St. Ann and Clarendon (Green et al 2008). Turmeric is
used in Jamaica mainly as a key ingredient in curry. Turmeric and curry are both
imported and exported (Edwards et al 2002). Unfortunately, turmeric also has an
associated bacterial infection which is difficult to remove, even with tissue culture.
We have had to undertake a triple indexing method whereby squashes of visually
clean turmeric plantlets are plated on a bacteria-screening-medium for three
sequential subcultures (over a period of three months) before they are certified as
bacteria-free and thus ready for dissemination to farmers. Considering the wide
range of uses this plant has scientifically proven to have, including its use as an
anti-cancer and alzheimer treatment, this plant needs to be taken more seriously in
the Caribbean. (Photos 10, 11 p.30)
Aloe (Aloe vera):
Immune enhancing (enhances immune function)
Anti-viral (inhibits the growth of or destroys viruses)
Vulnerary (Promotes local healing of wounds when applied locally)
Adjuvant therapy of HIV infection
Improving immune function response
Topical treatment for bums
Topical treatment for mouth ulcers
Topical treatment for wounds & abscesses (Bone 2003: 61)
Aloe is a crop waiting to happen for Jamaica (Gleaner Dec 20, 2007). It was
introduced to Jamaica many years ago from West Africa. The aloe family belongs
to the xeroids, which are desert plants. Almost all xeroids have a special chemical
make-up that enables the plant to close any wound almost immediately. This
wound-healing property is very effective for even the worst bum. Aloe vera leaves
are thick and fleshy with a gel-like substance which contains many of aloe's
medicinal properties. The aloe plant is made up of 96 per cent water. The
remaining four per cent contains active ingredients such as essential oils, amino
acids, minerals, vitamins, enzymes, triperpenes, glycoproteins, glycosides and
polysaccharides. This plant has a wide-range of uses and several value-added
products are being produced in Jamaica including gels, drinks, jams and jellies. As
knowledge is gained on how to prepare this plant into products for the market, the
demand for elite planting material has increased. Aloe grows well in vitro, and
clean, elite planting material is ready for field experiments. (See photo 12, 13
Sarsaparilla (Smilax regelii):
Anti-rheumatic (prevents or relieves rheumatism)
Depurative (aids detoxification & elimination)
Psoriasis (chronic recurrent non infectious skin disease with characteristic
Chronic skin disorders
Leaky gut syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome
Adjunctive therapy for leprosy (Bone 2003: 397)
Sarsparilla is a forest vine with some species producing rhizomes. Some of
the sarsaparilla plant species found in Jamaica are endemic (such as Chainy root,
Smilax balbisiana) while others originated from Central America (Smilax regelii,
S. ornata). Its roots are a main ingredient in most Jamaican root tonic drinks (45
different types collected so far). These root tonics were traditionally made by the
father of the house who would go deep in the forest to collect the roots and barks of
select trees, vines, shrubs and herbs. (Photo 14. p.31) These root tonics were, and
still are being used to increase libido, strength and as a general nutraceutical. The
root tonic plants, as well as being collected for personal use, are being reaped,
dried and exported overseas where they arc made into root tonics for Jamaicans
residing in areas such as New York. On top of this activity, several Jamaican
processors have started making root tonics locally. Since all the plants used to
make these root tonics are being obtained from the wild, and wild-crafters are
going deeper and higher into the forests to obtain them, it makes sense to
endeavour to provide elite planting material for this potential New Crop. Added to
this is the fact that the number and characteristics of the various Sarsaparilla
species growing in Jamaica is unknown and some Smilax spp. are endemic, so if
we lose the wild stocks of these plants they will be lost forever. For this genus, for
each Smilax species growing in Jamaica, we are collecting, identifying and
analysing them for their biochemical and genetic makeup. Each species will be
micropropagated, certified then field tested in cultivated fields and managed
forests. So far, we have multiplied and rooted Smilax regelii plantlets while
Chainy root has been initiated into tissue culture for the first time. (see photos
The majority of the studies undertaken on medicinal plants world-wide are
on the isolation and identification of their phytochemicals and how those natural
chemicals can be useful to man (Mitchell and Ahmad 2006). Not as much effort
has been expended on the plants themselves, especially as potential new crops. It
is the intention of the MRPG to correct this imbalance and in the process, provide
new opportunities for wild-crafters, farmers, primary processors and
agro-processors, marketers and exporters.
To date, more than 100 plant species have been obtained during field
collections and placed in the MPRG's ex situ and in vitro gene banks. Over 150
plant sketches of these locally -grown medicinal plants have been made, one
standardised product (neem disinfectant) has been produced and over six farmer
groups (more than 500 community members) have benefitted from the work of
The MRPG has been more successful with working with community groups
(Mitchell, 2006) than with commercializing products developed from the
medicinal plants, but it is expected that when these community groups begin to
harvest these high quality crops in abundance, they will also be able to produce
these value-added products. It is expected that the increased and improved yields
obtained will encourage even more processing activities in this sector.
All countries in the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic,
Jamaica, Puerto Rico) and some in the lesser Antilles (Grenada, St. Lucia, St.
Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, US Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Tobago),
as well as Belize and Guyana, have tissue culture facilities. The main crops
produced by these Caribbean laboratories are banana and orchids. Jamaican tissue
culture facilities have produced and sold banana, orchid, anthurium, ginger, and
pineapple plantlets. The MPRG has now initiated over 22 medicinal plant species
into tissue culture, with most of these having the potential to become viable crops
for Jamaica. The tissue culture protocols developed are being published (Mitchell
and Ahmad 2002, 2003; Webster et al 2006). It is hoped that through the effort of
the MPRG, commercial tissue culture laboratories will be established to
economically produce elite plantlets of these medicinal plants that are demanded
by processors and overseas markets to support further growth of this sector in the
Work has also started on the biochemical analysis of seven of these plants.
The emphasis of this research is on comparison of biochemicals produced by
locally-grown plants in comparison to commercial products (Mitchell et al 2003)
on how phytochemical levels change due to the different field conditions or
harvest time ofmicropropagated plants, wild plants or traditional planting material
(Green et al 2008); and on whether we can obtain bioactive chemicals in culture
(Webster et al 2007, 2008). Associated laboratories with the MPRG are also
beginning to analyse the genetic make-up of these medicinal plants. Finally, the
MPRG has put a lot of effort into publications of a more general nature including
seminars, e-newsletters, newspaper articles, reports, books and reviews such as
this one to encourage the general public to see the potential in our plants for health
and wealth (Mitchell 2002-3, 2004, 2005a,b, 2007; Mitchell and Ahmad 2006 a,b,
2007; Mitchell and Jagnarine 2007; Mitchell et al 2007, 2008a,b; Morrison et al
2004; Gutierrez et al 2008). It is hoped that the interest generated by this review
and other such publications will redound to our benefit for if we support local
industries in the Caribbean, we support ourselves.
The medicinal plants of the Caribbean have been used to enhance the health
of its people for a very long time and should be allowed to continue to do so.
Judicious scientific research done by UWI, TRAMIL and other similar groups as
described in this review, can help ensure this and should be supported in whatever
way possible. Ensuring that our plants are not collected to extinction is also
essential if the Medicinal Plant Industry of the Caribbean is to be sustainable. In
order to develop a sustainable Caribbean Herbal Industry, we need to know what
plants are where, how they grow and produce seeds, and what they are used for
(associated recipes). Then, we need to develop economically viable rural
agro-processing enterprises that are supplied with the harvest from elite planting
material grown in ecologically-friendly farming systems (including agro-forests
and managed forests) using elite planting material, such that the yield of both the
plant material and bio-actives is maximised. This is the area in which the MPRG is
concentrating. Once successful, industries producing value-added products can
sustainably obtain their raw materials locally, and export their products overseas,
in collaboration with the tourist industry, thus bringing much needed foreign
exchange into the region. And the Caribbean would continue to be a tourist haven
as the luscious biodiversity of the Caribbean forests would be protected.
Experiences from Jamaica, as highlighted here, can be useful elsewhere,
even as we learn from the experiences involved with expanding this sector in other
countries of the Caribbean. Several Caribbean institutions are supporting this
process including the UWI, CARDI (Caribbean Agricultural Research and
Development Institution), CHBA, IICA (Inter-American Institute for Cooperation
in Agriculture), USAID and the OAS (Organization of American States). In
conclusion, the Medicinal Plant Industry in the Caribbean, although much younger
than the comparable system in India or China for example, is in good hands and on
the right path with activities occurring in several areas, in both science and
business, but in need of further public and scientific support and funding, which
augers well for the future.
Acknowledgement: Graduate students: Seymour Webster, Cheryl Green, Raxon
Simmonds, Rani Jagnarine, Chenielle Delahaye, Shada Mohansingh, Taja Francis, Elaine
Denton, David Picking; Project members: Kirk Sang, Rena Irwin. Special thanks to
UWI, the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, and USAID/PARE project for funding
different aspects of the research reported in this paper.
3. http://idrinfo.idrc.ca/archive/ReportsINTRA/pdfs/1997e/1 12210.htm
5. http://www.anancy.net/uploads/file en/010905 Caribbean Herbs final repor.pdf
7. http://wwwchem.uwimona.edu.jm: 1104/lectures/ginger.html).
Bone K (2003) A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs. Churchill Livingstone, St
Louis, USA (p 481-485)
Delahaye C., Mitchell S.A. and M.H. Ahmad (2008a) "Water and alcoholic extracts of 18
plants used in Jamaica's folkloric medicine exhibit antimicrobial properties against
Bacillus megaterum and Aspergillus niger". Proceedings of the Eighth Conference
of the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences, UWI, Mona, Jamaica, February 26-28,
P31, pg 44.
Delahaye C.M., Mitchell S.A. and M.H. Ahmad (2008b) Efficacy of various garlic
(Allium sativum) products against a bacterium (Bacillus megaterium) and a fungi
(Aspergillus niger). Proceedings of the Eighth Conference of the Faculty of Pure
and Applied Sciences, UWI, Mona, Jamaica, February 26-28, P35, pg 47-48.
Denton E., Mitchell S.A. and M.H. Ahmad (2008) Challenges encountered while
initiating medicinal plants into tissue culture conditions: Case study of cerasee
(Momordica charantia) and spirit weed (Eryngiumfoetidum). Proceedings of the
Eighth Conference of the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences, UWI, Mona,
Jamaica, February 26-28, P39, pg 51-52.
Edwards W., D. Robinson, M Millar and SA Mitchell (2002) Development of turmeric
into a Jamaican nutraceutical. In: Proceedings of 16th SRC conference entitled
'Science and Technology for Health, Wealth and Knowledge' SRC, Ja. (in press).
Francis T.K., Mitchell S.A. and M.H. Ahmad (2008) Multiplication of sarsaparilla
(Smilax regelii) under micropropagation conditions using various
benzylaminopurine (BAP) and indole butyric acid (IBA) concentrations.
Proceedings of the Eighth Conference of the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences,
UWI, Mona, Jamaica, February 2008, P34, pg 45
Green C.E., Mitchell S.A. and M.H. Ahmad (2008) The development of an HPTLC
method to chemically fingerprint the polyphenolic compound, curcumin
((E,E)-1,7-bis-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl) -1,6-heptadiene-3,5-dione in
Jamaican turmeric (Curcuma longa). Proceedings of the Eighth Conference of the
Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences, UWI, Mona, Jamaica, Feb.2008 P38, 50-51.
Green C.E., Hibbert S.L., Bailey-Shaw Y.A., Williams L.A.D., Mitchell S. and Garraway
E. (2008) Extraction, Processing, and Storage Effects on Curcuminoids and
Oleoresin Yields from Curcuma longa L. Grown in Jamaica. J. Agric. Food Chem.,
Gutierrez R.M.P, Mitchell, S.A. and R.V. Solis (2008) Psidium guajava: A review of its
traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology. Journal of Ethnopharmacology
Jagnarine R., Mitchell S.A. and M.H. Ahmad (2008) Initiation of aloe (Aloe vera) into
tissue culture via the method of micropropagation using various explants types and
benzylaminopurine (BAP) concentrations. Proceedings of the Eighth Conference of
the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences, UWI, Mona, Jamaica, Feb.2008,34-47.
Mitchell S., R. Jagnarine, C.M. Delahaye, C.E. Green, T.K. Francis, E. Denton, R.N.
Simmonds, S.M. Mohansingh and M.H. Ahmad (2008a) Using biotechnology in the
tech transfer process: the mineral, microbial, and biochemical analysis of
field-grown micropropagated medicinal plants for the production of unique
monographs. Proceedings of the Eighth Conference of the Faculty of Pure and
Applied Sciences, UWI, Mona, Jamaica, February 26-28, P40, pg 52-53.
Mitchell S.A., S.A. Webster and M.H. Ahmad (2008b) Ackee (Blighia sapida)
-Jamaica's top fruit. Jamaica Journal, Institute of Jamaica, Kingston. (in press).
Mitchell S.A., M.H. Ahmad (2007) Medicinal Plant Biotechnology Research in Jamaica
Challenges and Opportunities. Proceedings of International Symposium on
Medicinal and Nutraceutical Plants. Ed. AK Yadav. Acta Horticulturae. 756:
Mitchell, S.A. (2007) Standards and Accreditation for Alternative and Complementary
Medicine, Caribbean Tourism Organization's (CTO) 9th Annual Conference on
Sustainable Tourism Development (STC-9) Cayman Islands, May 21-24, 2007.
Powerpoint (41 pgs) available on CTO website
Mitchell, S. A., D. Robertson, A. Smith, B. Goffe (2007) Jamaica Medicinal and
Aromatic Plant Country Report. Presented at Regional Workshop on 'Quality
control, scientific validation and business prospects of med and aromatic plants',
Trinidad and Tobago, Hosted by ICS-UNIDO in collaboration with IICA and
CHBA, October 1-3, 2007, 37 pgs.
Mitchell SA and R. Jagnarine (2007) Harnessing the potential of Aloe at last. 'Eye on
Science' page, Gleaner page, December 20, 2007, repeated Jan 17, 2008.
Mitchell S.A. (2006) New Crop Workshop: Charles Town, Proceeding. Forwards by Prof
Ahmad and Prof Young. As part-output of EFJ project. Biotechnology Centre,
Mitchell S.A. and M.H. Ahmad (2006a) A Review of Medicinal Plant Research at the
University of the West Indies, Jamaica, 1948-2001. West Indies Medical Journal
Mitchell S. A. and M. H. Ahmad (2006b) Protecting our medicinal plant heritage: the
making of a new national treasure. Jamaica Journal, Institute of Jamaica, Kingston.
29 (3): 28-33.
Mitchell S.A. (2005a) Plants promoting health and wealth. 'Eye on Science' page.
Gleaner page, October 27, 2005.
Mitchell S.A. (2005b) The role of Biotechnology: Jamaica. In: Sharing Innovative
experiences, Volume 10: Examples of the development of Pharmaceutical Products
from Medicinal Plants. UNDP/TCDC/TWNSO/TWAS, New York pgs 164-176.
Mitchell S.A. and R. Perez (2004) 'Toward a Regional Agenda for Agrobiotechnology
Research, Innovation and Industry in the Caribbean Region', St. Lucia
Mitchell S. A. and M. H. Ahmad (2003) Agricultural Biotechnology in the Caribbean.
AgBiotechNet, Vol 5 February (ABN 106) 5 pages.
Mitchell S.A. and M.H. Ahmad (2003) Establishment of ex vitro and in vitro germplasm
collections of important trees and medicinal plants of Jamaica. Jamaica Journal of
Science and Technology 14: 9-16.
Mitchell S.A., Millar M. and M.H. Ahmad (2003) Neem (Azadirachta indica) research at
the Biotechnology Center: Testing of neem formulations, Azadirachtin levels in
neem oil and Micropropagation of neem plantlets. Jamaica Journal of Science and
Technology 14: 79-89
.Mitchell S.A. and M.H. Ahmad (2002) The Wonders of the Neem Tree. Health, Home
and Garden Magazine, Jamaica pg 78-80
Mitchell S.A. (2002-3) Gleaner newspaper articles on Medicinal plants (52)
commencing 13th March -'Medicinal plants of Jamaica', 'Spices, herbs and
medicinal foods', 'Ginger as medicine, Part 1 & 2', 'Sweet scent of essential oils',
'Some useful essential oils', 'Essential oils and oleoresins', 'Some essential oil
recipes Part 1 & 2', 'More disease resistant ginger needed, Ginger cultivation and
use in Jamaica' 'Getting to know our medicinal plants [Leaf-of-life]', 'Healing
power of medicinal plants', 'Neem as medicine part 1&2', 'Neem in medicine and
agriculture', 'Herbal teas anyone?', 'Is Cerassee safe?', 'Do-it-yourself herbal
concoctions', 'The healing value of hot peppers Part 1&2, 'Aloe Vera a potential
life saver', 'The healing power of pimento', 'Garlic's antibiotic action', 'The story
of the periwinkle', '8 quick pain cures.....right in your kitchen', 'Turmeric as
medicine', 'Noni retards tumor growth', 'Sarsaparilla the tonic drink', 'Poison
versus remedy', 'Cinnamon spice and medicine', 'Cool peppermint tea',
'Medicinal plant research and development', 'Sorrel and ginger', 'Try some
avocado oil', 'Nutmeg: a gift from Grenada', 'Coconuts for Health', 'Guava-safe
for diarrhea', 'Papaya: Use with caution', 'Disease-fighting plants', 'Bissy, bissy,
bissy', 'Herbal teas and remedies', 'Lemony fever grass', 'Sweet-smelling
Rosemary', 'Herbal teas edge out medicines', 'Thyme: useful in the pharmacy and
kitchen', 'Soursop seeds are toxic', 'Sweet and sour citrus', 'Bum fat with bitter
orange', 'Citrus oils', 'Aromatic scents of Citrus', 'Citrus as kidney cleanser,
pesticide', 'The versatile lime'.
Morrison, EY, Lowe, H. and Mitchell S.A. (2004) 'Caribbean Medicinal Plants'.
E-book. Pelican Publishers, Kingston, Jamaica.
Pilzer PZ (2002) The Wellness Revolution. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
Simmonds R..N., Mitchell S.A. and M.H. Ahmad (2008a) Sterilization and
micropropagation of Jamaican turmeric using rhizome sprouts. Proceedings of the
Eighth Conference of the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences, UWI, Mona,
Jamaica, February 26-28, 017, pg 18.
Simmonds R.., Mitchell S.A. and M.H. Ahmad (2008b) The effects of storage and
pre-storage conditions on the sprouting time and weight loss of turmeric (Curcunma
longa) rhizomes stored under different conditions of light and temperature.
Proceedings of the Eighth Conference of the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences,
UWI, Mona, Jamaica, February 26-28, P42, pg 54.
Webster S.A., Mitchell S.A., Gallimore W., Williams L.A.D. and Ahmad M.H. (2008)
Biosynthesis of Dibenzyl Trisulphide (DTS) from somatic embryos and
rhizogenous/embryogenic callus derived from Guinea Hen Weed (Petiveria alliacea
L.) leaf explants. In Vitro Cell. Dev. Biol. (submitted no. IVPL-D-07-00258).
Webster, S.A., Mitchell, S.A., W. Gallimore, LAD Williams and Ahmad, M.H. (2007)
Biosynthesis, Extraction and Quantitation of Dibenzl Trisulphide (DTS) from
Guinea Hen Weed (Petiveria alliacea) Leaf Explant-derived Somatic Embryos: A
Model System for "Molecular Farming"- Implications for Youth Development in
Jamaica. In: Proceedings of 21st Annual Conference on Science and Technology
entitled 'Driving Youth Development' SRC, Jamaica, November 20-22, 2007.
Webster S.A., Mitchell S.A., Reid W. and Ahmad M.H. (2006) Somatic embryogenesis
from leaf and zygotic embryo explants of Blighia sapida 'cheese' ackee. In Vitro
Cell. Dev. Biol. Plant. 42(5): 467-472.
Interviews with Professor Hugh Wynter
Joan Meade (JM) and Pansy Hamilton (PH) are the interviewers
This is January 17, 2007, the date of our first interview.
The thing is that we think that there is a human interest story in the role that
you played in the development of the Fertility Unit. We know that a lot has been
said about it and that you have received a number of awards which acclaim the
work that is done here in this Unit. Were there any important events that really put
you on the path? I think what we want to get is really, as an individual, what were
the things that influenced you. Before you got into your profession, were there any
events or things that happened that sort of made a light bulb go off to say that is the
thing that I probably could do something about, and then with your own
professional development, maybe concretized it? So we are not restricting you,
but those things that you think influenced you or were important in terms of
moving you along a certain path, made you concerned, and pushed you towards
doing something that could address that concern. Because, somehow, I think that
in all the things that I have read and that I have seen I have not seen that aspect of it
and I think we would want to capture it in terms of a human interest story.
My mind is jumping around. Well, but you will have to take out and put
back and patch up as I jump around the place.
First of all, let me thank you for the suggestion that I put into action your
own thoughts about what I might have to say looking back on my life in relation to
my profession, my occupation. I can go as far back as when the University started
when, as a youngster in a scout troop, we were participating in the installation of
the Princess Alice as the first Chancellor of the University College, as it then was.
I was one of the ushers on that occasion. I recall a beautiful afternoon and the
playing fields with the sunlight against the mountains, the chairs out on the lawn
and the robing room in which the Princess and the University hierarchy were
gathered. I can see the red carpet going from the changing room which is now
replaced by the swimming pool. I can hear the fanfare as the procession came out.
I can see the gowns, the reds and scarlet of the first undergraduates, the first batch
of medical students. This was followed by the academic staff. Then more fanfare
as the founders of the University, Sir Raymond Priestly in his black gown with
silver brocade, next the chancellor of our University of London, this was the
Princess' husband the Earl of Athlone in his black brocaded gown with gold motifs
all over, then the big moment when the fanfare ushered in the Princess Alice. It
was a very emotional moment for me. My parents were in the audience. I can see
Bustamante coming in the opposite direction to which the audience was entering,
his hair flying in the wind, quite a stature. I can see the Princess with the train held
by Denise Mitchell, who became Mrs. David Thwaites later on. The train has now
been cut for some reason;. I suppose they know why. I, with a big emotional
feeling, recall the first words of the Princess when she said I, Alice, Princess of
Great Britain, Countess of Athlone, promise...., and so the oath went on and it was
at that moment that I thought that I had to be a part of this venture, at age 13 or 14,
somewhere there. I felt this was something new and I had to be a part of it.
Perhaps it was the whole ritual, the whole ceremonial that gripped me, but apart
from that I felt that this was perhaps an avenue down which I could go to make my
Just elaborate the thought you just had a moment ago about the contribution
you could make.
I don't think the influence was at that particular time; it was just something I
had heard along the way that, at around age 3 1 think I was, I was very ill. Now you
must remember it was the pre-antibiotic days and my father, who was a general
practitioner, along with his colleagues, some four or five of them including the
head of the Pathology Department at KPH, were over my bed, I am told, and a
diagnosis was difficult in coming. Eventually it was Soni Dysentery and attributed
to the fact that little Hugh went out and picked up the cherries off the ground
although there was a pipe there to wash them, I didn't wash them and had Soni
Dysentery. But what really happened, as I was told, they felt that prayers helped a
lot, that he [my father] and his colleagues prayed over me and made a promise,
they on my behalf, that I would make a contribution if I were saved. And this story
was told to me several times, not necessarily to rivet it in but in conversation it
came up and this probably did give me some impetus, some drive. Anyway,
skipping all that childhood when I must be grateful to my parents, ever grateful to
them, who showed me the right way in life. I grew up with other responsibilities
thrown on me as a child and as a youngster, but to get to my academic life.
Well, I am interested in the parent aspect of it because I think it is so
important in terms of what it does for young people growing up, providing the kind
of nurture while at the same time inspiring them, challenging them to make good
of themselves. Because now, in Jamaica today, I think a lot of what we are seeing,
a lot of the negative things that we are seeing, is due to lack of this parental
guidance, influence and challenge. And I relate to a lot of what you are saying in
terms of your parents being there to support and nurture but at the same time
challenging you to be a good citizen or a good person. So I'd like you to speak a
little more to that because I think it is really, really very important.
Okay, I was brought up to value things in life. I was made to believe that life,
in living, you had to be responsible to people around you, be conscious of people
around you, to care for people around you. I saw my father who had to work his
way through university to become what he was, or was at that time. I could see this
man who studied abroad and had to work to pay his school fees. It rings through
my mind, my thoughts at the moment, that in order to pay his school fees he waited
on tables, the white man's table, he cleaned bathrooms, and the story is that one
term he hadn't enough money to pay his school fees except, having met them, he
lived on a tin of cream biscuits and water for a month. He got ill because of that but
he went on. The older sister of the person who became his wife- he knew them
from he was here in Jamaica as a pharmacist he wrote to her in New York and
said, everybody called her mammna, mamma I am hungry and she took her last
dollar, enclosed it in an envelope, a dollar in those days was a lot I suppose, and
sent it to him. It was after that he met up with Mamma Wright, actually the mother
of the late Custos of Clarendon Dr Abner Wright, and reconnected, to use the
word, with this young girl that he left in Jamaica who was now grown up, who
became my mother. He came home to be the Medical Officer of Spanish Town
Hospital which he served for some four years before going into private practice in
Kingston. It was at that interim that I was born. I was born in Spanish Town but I
spent only about 10 days there, because I was in the moving exercise to Kingston.
Anyway, what else did they teach me? I came through. There were incidents of
disappointments work wise, and his challenge to me was "it is not a failure son, it is
just a disappointment, it is just a hurdle in your path and you must be prepared to
go over many hurdles to achieve what you want". He was among the first black
doctors in our country.
Another aspect of their activities which I appreciated was the fact that they
did not just sit back and practise medicine, but there was a group of all these black
doctors who met every month at a different home and went through papers and
presentations. The ladies came along to play cards. They played table games.
They had laughing sessions. They would stop to listen to the boxing, Joe Louis I
can recall. These sessions gave way to the CPC, the Clinical Pathological
Conference at the University, when the University started, and they all came up, at
least most of them, instead of continuing this home circuit. This gave me the
realization that there were men, loyal to Howard University, for the sessions were
closed with Howard song. It gave me a feeling of loyalty to an institution that gave
you your training. It gave me a feeling of cohesiveness in men and women, for that
matter, because Dr. Leila Wynter was the first Lady Doctor to come to the sessions
My older sister was afflicted with Downs Syndrome and I will just summarize.
That wonderful mother of mine really sacrificed her life for that child as she was
referred to even when she got to 70 years of age. No mother, no mother like that
mother. Anyway, if I might move on. I am stopping. I am too sentimental for this.
I entered university age 18. I had obstacles, yes. I went through the clinical
years pushing my bicycle on campus. One good thing happened to me, really good
thing happened to me. On the first day of term...
Where were you riding from?
We would ride from Gibraltar Hall where I was resident up to Irvine Hall,
because that was where the dining room was for breakfast and meals, then ride
from Irvine Hall down to the science building. Yes, you would have to ride up for
lunch and ride down again for 2 o'clock classes. We had classes on Saturday
mornings. I was about to say that one really good thing happened to me in that first
term in 1951. I saw a young lady and wanted to know her name. We used to take
an attendance register so I positioned myself in the line dealing with the lecture
theatre and saw her name. I addressed her by her name. At first she was a bit
befuddled about how I came to know this name. Anyway, it wasn't long after,
weeks maybe, that, yes we would work and study, and finish our internship and
embark upon life together. She has now completed 47 years.
It was a challenge. It was an involvement in studying which I think did me
well. We came up to the clinical years -the University buildings were just partly
complete, Obstetrics was just being built -to see the opening of the hospital, which
was officially opened by Sir Alexander Bustamante. We did our clinical work,
came to Obstetrics and Gynaecology clerkship. We were a small group. We
started with 33 in the first year but when we came up to the clinic we were just
about 20. Oh, they fell by the wayside, some of them. Some of them came in the
year after. They were referred. In the end it's only 13 qualified that year, 1958.. 0
& G clerkship was interesting in that there were only 4 students, of course 4 went
to medicine, 4 to surgery, whatever it was, 4 went to O&G and there were 4 wards
numbers 9, 10, 11 and 12, so there was only I student to each ward and we were on
duty every other night, one downstairs, one upstairs. The first week it turned out
that my fiancee was on ward the night that I was off because she was stationed
upstairs and the following night when I was on she was off because I was stationed
downstairs. And, after a week or two, the roster was changed because somebody
had whispered to Professor Stewart this was not in the interest of this young
couple. So we went through the six month clerkship. It was during that clerkship
that I realized that I was enjoying Obstetrics because of what I still regard the
process of birth, as a miracle. It is absolutely amazing. It is absolutely God-
designed when that first breath is taken and the whole physiology and anatomy of
the newborn changes into life outside of the womb. It is so fascinating that every
time it's like you are beginning all over again to welcome and witness birth, the
mechanism of birth. It's nothing short of a grand design. I sort of felt then that
perhaps this is where I'd continue but I had to finish my internship and I did 6
months of medicine and 6 months of surgery. I did 6 months in casualty. I did 6
months in adult medicine. I did 6 months in Paediatrics and then a vacancy
occurred. Now it could not be better, it occurred in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
So I came back to start my residency programme. It was at that time that Professor
David Stewart had made links between our University College, as it was then, with
the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, London, with regards to
recognition of training here at Jamaica. There are a number of people who were
here and a number of people who benefitted from being in this Unit. I don't know
if you need me to call names of people who worked here and taught us Jack
Pinkerton who went on to be the Professor in Belfast; Charles Douglas, who
became Professor at the Royal Free Hospital, London; Peter Curzen, who became
Professor at Westminster Hospital, London; and Geoffrey Dixon, who became
Professor at Bristol. One will recall other names like the Barbadian Teddy
Cummings, the only West Indian on staff at that time. These were all foreigners
who worked here and taught us at UCWI. There were other people at that time.
Others came along, you know. All the names are slipping me now. Anyway, we
can fill that in later.
Then, I think that the training in those days was as good if not better than one
would have had in a foreign institution for not only did we familiarize and learn
and study Obstetrics and Gynaecology, but we had the added facts of local West
Indian conditions. I might go back a bit and say that these people became
Professors abroad simply because it was a plus for them to work in the colonies.
They jumped up the ladder. They came out and instead of going slowly up the
British ladder they were able to rebound to the top and they carried our flag with
them, many of them becoming Vice Presidents and other ranking officers of the
Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Class after class went by and then
it was my turn to go, to get some exposure as to what they would require for their
examination. Of course I didn't mention that we graduated, did I? Anyway, oh
that was a very important occasion, my graduation. It was on Valentines Day and
it was the day that I gave my fiancee her ring. It was so romantic. Oh dear these
are memories, nice memories. I went up to the Hammersmith.
Advanced Training and Appointment
You took a loan to buy the ring?
My old man had to help me, of course (laughter). My old man had to help
me. Bless his soul. He could do it, and my mother with a little twitch of the corner
of her mouth, with pleasure. Any time she was happy she would smile, she always
smiled. Oh dear, what is life? I went up to Hammersmith through the
recommendation really of Professor Dixon. Here I worked for a year and a half.
At the time my wife Dorrie was doing her diploma in Bacteriology at the School of
Tropical Medicine and we had to leave our two little children at home with my
mother while my father was in hospital, and on the day that I started work the
message came that he died. I will never forget J. C. McLure Brown, Professor at
the Hammersmith, son of the then famous F. R. Brown who wrote the book
Antenatal Care which we used as our text, and which was used all over the world
as the text book of Obstetrics. We met in the corridor that morning, ten minutes
after the news. I was meeting him for the first time. I was on my way from my
room to work downstairs. We had to live in. I was introduced by Professor Dixon
who had already told Professor Brown of my dilemma. He said "Wynter, I was in
a similar situation some time ago. If you can afford it, go home, look after your
mother and your children and come back to us. We will wait for you." I had the
pleasure of having him in my home, years later, as an external examiner here. His
gift of an alabaster ash tray still sits on my table at home.
I left Hammersmith, another milestone, on the day of Churchill's funeral.
And technology of that time was quite interesting. I was sitting in the lobby
waiting for my transport at the Hammersmith Hospital. Dorrie had by then come
home some four months before me. And I was watching this funeral of Churchill
and the cortege was being taken into St. Paul's Cathedral. I had to leave it there
and went to the airport and flew across the Atlantic on then BOAC, British
Overseas Airways Corporation. And I had to stop over in New York, before
getting down to Jamaica. I can't remember what airline I was coming down on. I
can't imagine it was Air Jamaica. I sat in the in-transit lounge and the relay of the
Churchill broadcast was taking place, the cortege was being taken into St. Paul's
Cathedral and I was able to see the entire service of that renowned figure.
I came home. The Ska had just come in. I arrived some hours late, 11 or 12
o'clock that night. Shaun then age 31/2, David then age 2, demonstrated to me
how to dance the Ska and the whole feeling of family came back, not isolation in
some foreign country. We got our jobs after a time. I had to wait for an
appointment. I came back in February and didn't get my appointment until
October. It was sad in a way in that there were four vacancies in the University in
the O&G Department, four vacancies, and I was not thought suitable. I went to the
Ministry of Health and Dr. C. C. Wedderbum was there. By the way he was
married to Leila Wynter-Wedderburn and he said to me "Hugh, I will not employ
you" There are four vacancies in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
There are only expatriates up there. You go and sit on their doorsteps until they
employ you," which I had to do. Professor Stewart was in the Dean's Office and
Charles Douglas was Head of Department. I won't tell you what transpired in our
discussions and what I read from my interviewers. I won't. That was not nice. But
he is now passed on having moved to Australia. And, I came to respect him as a
man, as a good man, great man, by virtue of(PH that's Douglas? HW yes) what
evolved following that first encounter. I am trying to just pick out different
obstacles. I went and worked in Pathology. I was given a Senior Registrar post in
Pathology. I don't know if it's what I said to Professor Stewart which made him
discuss it with Professor Bras in Pathology, that I had been at home for so many
months and that I needed money to tomb my father. Anyway, eventually I came
back to O & G in October 1965 and by then some of the people mentioned above
had left us and I worked day and night. That's the best I could do and got my
promotion. Then Professor Stewart left, retired and the chair was left vacant for
four years because they were searching for a suitable person although I was here
for 10 years as senior lecturer, could be more, '65 to '75, that's 10 years.
Seeds of Fertility Unit
It was around that time that there was a visitor from the Ford Foundation
who introduced me to the Culdoscopic method of female sterilization and he was
able to arrange for me and my family to visit a number of places in the United
States and Canada Miami, North Carolina, Boston, Vancouver, San Francisco,
Mexico I think it was over a period of three weeks or more. It was like an
introduction to see, to meet people. And they came back to make me the offer to go
to Mexico City where Gutierez Najar was working on the technique. I went and
spent three weeks there refreshing the little Spanish I knew, but then in Medicine
the language is almost the same. It wasn't difficult. It was interesting to see what
was necessary; the discussions with the technicians who were designing the
instruments and I was fascinated with that. I came home and thought that I would
set it up. Why? This was an outpatient, one day procedure. Our patients requiring
female tubal ligation had to wait in the wards some two, three, four days after
delivery in order to get on to the operating list because there were so many major
things we had to do then, major things. And with the limited hospital time,
certainly this would be a great saving on bed time. It would be a great financial
saving for patients although the fees were not all that much as they are today. But
the one thing that I had not thought of is that it deprives that lady of a few days of
rest in hospital that she had never had before and probably would have to go to the
hurly- burly of a number of other children at home. Anyway we embarked on it.
We set it up. I can remember setting it up with Sister Germaine, and Thelma Fagan
and I started in the Labour Ward in one of the delivery rooms. There were, there
are two delivery rooms, two major delivery rooms. One was taken over on certain
days to do this culdoscopic sterilization which ended in a publication of the work,
the first publication on this technique internationally.
By then they agreed to provide space outside Ward 10 refurbished with an
operating theatre, a small operating theatre area and three beds, and interview
room. There we worked. I worked and got my MD Thesis out of it, MD London
thesis out of it. The work then was readily accepted. Then a big turning point, I
became Head of Department and later Professor having been interviewed twice
before that and not given the Chair. And then one day I sat in the office, there was
a rap on the door and the then Professor of Medicine, now our Chancellor Sir
George Alleync, I had passed him on the road, I was coming up and he was going
down to campus, didn't know what for of course, just waved a hello and within
about half hour after he knocked on my door and said congratulations. I was
appointed without a third, as it would be, interview. Other things went on in the
four year gap before my elevation, you know, but I won't mention that.
Another day I was sitting in the office and there was a knock on the door and
in came the United Nations Populations Activities (UNFPA) Country
Representative, a smiling German who introduced himself and I opened the
discussion with the suggestion this was the occasion when a decision could be
made that I could take the Unit through some path to make a contribution, not only
to Jamaica but to the West Indies because we were a West Indian institution. I felt
and heard, responding to the call, that the smaller territories were saying that we
are not feeling the impact of the University which by now had extended to
Barbados and Trinidad, Cave Hill and St. Augustine respectively. Of course I
have jumped independence. I jumped the fact that most of the foreign Professors
and teachers had left by then. I was not the first West Indian to be Professor.
Would you want to put a date on that event of the visit of the UNFPA
It's before the Unit started, so perhaps if you go back a year or two, perhaps a
year before we started. It would be on record, in one of the magazines. I felt too
that we could have a West Indies thrust. I was saying that some of the Professors
had gone. I was not the first West Indian Professor. We were left then with a
challenge because I must confess that there was a feeling that the University would
not continue in the hands of locals, another challenge, another challenge for some
of us who took on the responsibilities, I am talking about 1975. That's when I
started in the Unit here. Professor Stewart left in 1990, no maybe 1980. Oh, sorry,
1990 he visited us. So we took up our challenge.
We are getting back to the visit of Dr. Dieter Ehrhart, theUNFPA Country
Representative. I sat with him and he invited Dr. Sevryns, who was the PAHO
representative in Trinidad, and he arrived and we spent three consecutive days and
the intervening nights until about 4 am mapping out a programme that would be
West Indian for West Indian trainees, addressing West Indian needs in Family
Planning, Fertility Management as it has expanded to become. There we had a
number of programmes developing. It was not just a question of an
inter-disciplinary approach at first. Selections were made in the various territories
and fellowships given to selected candidates out of Ministries of Health,
Ministries of Education, doctors and nurses initially and Family Planning
Administrators. The courses were essentially designed so as to have a couple of
weeks in didactic lectures to all of them and then some courses for another four
weeks, where they went on in their various disciplines. The doctors went into the
operating theatre and clinical area. The Administrators went through the Family
Planning Board and visited particular institutions. Nurses were also in the theatres
and this complex, as it really was, a marvelous complex of things which clicked so
well that in the long run other courses were developed. And let me tell you the
stalwart of Cynthia Sadler who was the Programme Coordinator.
Development of Unit
So that was actually in this Unit?
In this Unit, in this Unit on two floors, the ground floor and first floor and
this went on for a number of years. Of course we had evaluation exercises going
through the territories finding out their needs, building courses and programmes
around these various requests. Every two or three years a team would go round,
Dr. Phyllis Macpherson-Russell, Mrs. Sadler, Dr. Ina Barrett, sometimes with
someone from overseas. I remember Dr. Kratz, the first evaluation which was
really UNFPA instigated, or supported not instigated. Dieter Ehrhart worked hard
and eventually was able to get links with the German Institute of Technical
Cooperation (GTZ) who bought into our programme after they had visitations of
these various people. Dr Diesfeldt was the first one I recall, but there were others,
like Dr Korte, who finally approved of our programmes and the building which
existed at the time was 25% financed by the Federal Republic of Germany, 25%
financed by UNFPA and 50% of the cost by the Government of Jamaica.
Programmes went on. The GTZ had many evaluation exercises. More
programmes were developed. In the operating theatre we were not only doing
tubal ligations but we were looking at the other aspects such as pap smears:
Colposcopy emerged and Laparoscopy or Laparoscopic Sterilization somewhat
replaced the culdoscopic approach. But then Operative Laparoscopy came into
being and that expanded. Then we turned to in-vitro fertilization. We laid down
the equipment. Dr. Frederick at that time took an interest. Encouraged he went
away and came home with the knowledge and expertise. He took under his wing
this aspect of the work. He also gained his Professorial status and as you know he
has taken over the reins of the Directorship of the Unit. I mention that now simply
because we are in the theatre, thanks to many people who worked there, Sisters
Germain and Fagan mentioned before and a number of nurses. Administrators
changed. We had Mrs. Manning, after the foundation, planning, vision,
spearheading, and the devotion of our first Administrator Mrs. Julie M'Farlane.
They worked with the architects and their teams to have us housed.
I think it would be a good idea to have somewhere in this Unit something
with the names of these foundation people.
That would be a good idea. We started by photographs but I think one of the
hurricanes destroyed some of them. We even started with groups of photographs
of each group. I do not know what happened to them as we moved around, but
Julie's picture was there. Mrs. Sadler's picture was there for she was given the
UNFPA Award. I don't know if it is still around. It would be nice to go back and
see if we can find them. After Mrs. Manning, I think it was Miss Jackson who took
over and then Mrs. Brown.
I am moving to the Administration as I mention these names, but then going
parallel with this was the establishment of the research aspect of the work. So now
the Unit, the Advanced Training and Research in Fertility Management Unit, was
named and thousands of people on our programmes trained within the walls of this
building. Perhaps we will have to look up the numbers. And we took advantage,
this Unit, of being the first on the University Satellite training programmes. When
the Head of Johns Hopkins, Professor Theodore King, opened and gave the first
lecture of this Unit it was on the satellite network, sponsored by this Unit. The
Unit grew. Various teams were involved, tied into the activities of the Campus,
and the various regions of Jamaica. Research took us to the far end of the island.
We have established activities in Montego Bay, working through the School of
Continuing Studies mainly through Dr. Phyllis Macpherson-Russell. We were
able to concretize a number of activities through that vehicle through that
institution who had the Resident Tutors at the helm of each territory and this
benefitted us in launching programmes in the territories. I can think of one
particular Health and Family Life Education activity which was established in four
territories and the trainers were people whom we had trained, just an example of
the multiplier effect which was rewarding when we look back over the years. I
think we can fill in personnel who worked in the various areas. I am thinking about
you yourselves Pansy and Joan, but let me just mention Jean Munroe who was
appointed Assistant Director, who was my right arm so to speak, who had her
finger on the pulse of every single area and in her busy way she kept everything
going. I don't know. I am sort of getting to the stage of mental fatigue.
This is probably a good time to stop, actually and we could continue another
It is Wednesday January 31, 2007 and this is the second interview with
Johns Hopkins' Professor Theodore King was the person who gave the first
lecture on UWIDITE, as you had said earlier.
If they want to argue about it that's another matter. Anyway, I think it was
he, as far as I know.
Perhaps we can say he was among the first You were speaking last time
about the Unit having contacts and collaborating in the wider Caribbean Region
mainly through the School of Continuing Studies and that the Resident Tutors
were very integral, an integral part of that. I think what we have not captured was
the impact that the Unit had through its Outreach Programme in the wider
Caribbean. What was the rationale? How was it done? What were the
Things were not just set up ad hoc. It was by virtue of a number visits,
evaluation exercises that programmes evolved. It was through these evaluation
exercises that programmes evolved based mainly on the assessment of needs of
related areas to fertility management. The impact varied from territory to territory.
We not only were able to set up programmes at the centre here at Mona. Perhaps
one would like to look back at one of the most extensive and successful ones was
the programme in Suriname, which was also one of the territories which we
included in our circuit.
I didn't realize that Suriname was part of it.
Yes, the family planning Board of Suriname, Stichting IOBI I think. My
personal last visit was the day when I think they were able to announce with much
glee the setting up of the programme there, which was patterned on what we had
here and perhaps that was the one, the territory that took, was able to develop how
we would have liked to see it in other territories, although other territories did have
smaller, sorry I don't think smaller is the word, selected areas which they worked
on and not as broadly as the Suriname programme. Eventually, over the years we
cut down on regions. We took four territories as a bloc, a single bloc, and we can
work it out, the number of blocs we had, and focused on these areas bringing
people within the bloc to one site and helping them to develop the programmes or
courses they required. Our assistance really was not financial it was more in a
supervisory role and some of these, well, they met varying successes. There was
the problem in most, a lot of the territories that the people who were selected way
back in our programmes went home and they either got promotion or they
migrated and therefore this created little weaknesses in the system and sort of
retraining had to be done but this was encouraged within the territories.
We would like to look on the fact that we were able to keep our links which
regrettably could be a bit stronger, but the interest did wane depending on local
conditions in each island. UNICEF came into it and perhaps Mrs. Meade you
know more about that than I do.
You mean later on?
Later on and through them basically linking to the Cave Hill Campus we
were able to launch activities I think over the Eastern Caribbean and most recent is
the contact in the Jamaican field where we had our Montego Bay exercise which is
at the time of speaking in its third year and Joan you can fill in the details of this
with regard to the areas that the schools that we approached through the Ministries.
Yes, we have that and I also have the clusters that we worked with
Well that will probably have more details than my looking back 30 years.
The Governments in the various countries, how involved were they in
providing support for activities?
I think it was very pleasantly positive and I think what the attraction was, is
the fact that they became conscious that the activities fell under the umbrella of not
just one Ministry. The concept from the very beginning way back when we started
that it was to be multidisciplinary, intersectoral as we established later. The three
ministries really are health, education and social services which had different
nomenclatures, mark you, throughout the territories but basically that's what they
were. When we visited we were sure to either meet with the representatives from
all three ministries and took the opportunity to visit some independently and to
establish contact with personnel who could respond directly with us, and through
these people we were able to keep a tab on their progress. I cannot recall any
negative reactions. There were some financial restraints. There may be one or two
programmes where we were able to assist. I recall for instance financing the
purchase of small bits of equipment and financing something like the secretarial
help in one or two areas over a period of time. It slips me what the time limits were
but this enabled the programmes to get started. Naturally, over the years, and we
are talking about a span of 15 years, things have changed and no doubt the time is
probably right to revisit and to get some idea as to what progress people have
made. I would not be surprised if some have got incorporated in other activities. I
would not be surprised if, for various reasons, some have stalled, but the Unit's
contribution, I think, is still visible in most of the places.
What has always in a way puzzled me, or i'ts not a puzzle really, is that in
terms of the whole concept of this Unit from the start it was multifaceted because
what I usually see is that when something is started and is going to focus on the
delivery of some medical service usually the first focus is on providing the service,
clinical service, and it is some time after based on that experience that one comes
to realize that there are some other important things that you need to put in place
whether it is research, whether it is training you know and the whole outreach
thing. But from the very start all these were included. We had this multi-pronged
approach and I have always wondered what it was that led you to that design. So it
wasn't something that came out of an experience so to speak. You know you
thought okay we need to provide this service, you are a clinician and therefore the
focus, the natural move, is to provide clinical services. But from the start it was
recognized that training was important, and not only training of clinicians but
training of persons who were an important part and who would support the
programme and that research was necessary because certainly if you wanted to
expand and improve you would have to do that on the basis of research and the
whole thing about outreach, you know in terms of reaching out to others both as
individuals and in terms of territories you know meeting their needs. So it was not
I have a clinic, I am setting up a clinic that is going to be providing these services.
So that the vision was kind of all encompassing and I am always intrigued as to
what could lead a clinician to take that approach because it is kind of unusual. It is
It is odd, I agree. But your question is really the answer. If you think about
your question, it is probably the answer. It's difficult to sort of say it in one
sentence. Providing a clinical service such as this which is really family planning,
is how it started. It started off with a clinical technique that of culdoscopic
sterilization, tubal ligation, and it is obvious that this impinges on family and as
family planning itself makes one think what else is there that can influence the
development of a family structure in its ideal, in an ideal function. What is there
that a family needs? Here you are providing something which, well, family
planning yes, but it was also family limitation. I think we are back to it in 2007
when if you look at what's happening in most of the territories, certainly more so
in Jamaica,, where families have not got the cohesiveness, the bonding, the
interpersonal relationship between father and mother, and the siblings. The fact of
the need for education within this; the need for addressing the broader aspect of
health I mean that all these are structures must be pulled together under one
umbrella, and to do this to get the different disciplines together so that they become
aware of the need for collaboration across the board. All right, health is going
along on its own way but how does this impact on the other areas. I think, looking
back now, it's wider than we were able to address in the beginning and things
evolved from this simple recognition that, look, we have to bring together different
disciplines in order to make a single impact on family.
It was not only here in Jamaica. How I looked at it was I might have
mentioned this before- at a time when the territories were crying out for the
University to have some impact in their regions, their respective regions, to get
outside of the three campuses. There was a question of this being a common need.
It still is a common need throughout the islands and how could this Unit which has
for all these years been looking after women's health, trying to produce healthy
offspring but needed to limit them within a family unit, which we really have not
been addressing to that extent. You know if you could look at the Singapore
model, I suppose one has to be a little more organized and you could probably even
go further and talk about incentives and disincentives. We had to choose, funds
restricting, just which entities or which areas needed to come together that we
could be able to finance and it was obvious that to give the University's presence,
mark you it's only a very small area, I mean one would like to address the entire
campus and other disciplines and other faculties and even us within the Faculty of
Medicine. How could this area, how could we make a contribution in the
University's contribution to the Region or the University's activities in the
Region? To ask me why we sort of- it wasn't quite pulling it out of a hat -it was a
matter of sitting and thinking this through along with the people who initially set
up the programme. I am referring to Dr. Erhart and Dr. Sevryns and the original ad
hoc committee which was chaired by Phyllis McPherson-russell. We can think of
people, names that sat together. Probably I should take a break to recall this.
As I say, I just found it odd.
Well let me just make the statement then that your question is how did I do
it? I can't take credit for it all. Certainly, to be honest perhaps, I was in some
aspects ignorant of how it would mesh in and I naturally had to lean on the concept
and advice of other people who were able to chisel down the wide possibilities to
something that was initially practical or possible both from a financial point of
view, because remember these 4000 or 5000 people that came up here over the first
10 or 12 years were given full fellowships, travel and per diem and that in itself
was costly and had to be financed and basically through the main agencies, the
GTZ and UNFPA, they were the two main ones although we had input from
PAHO and the Family Planning Board and later UNICEF. These were things
which came in the wake of requests and happily positive responses.
Well, clearly you are saying that other persons did contribute to the whole
idea and its development but certainly you had to have a measure of openness
seeing the value of doing that because based of my own experiences having always
worked in the Health Sector from the time I graduated and being in the Ministry of
Health and Family Planning and so on, I remember when we talked about setting
up a planning and evaluation unit, setting up a project unit and so on. It was also a
struggle between those who were in the planning and human resource and so on as
against those who are clinicians because they see it in terms of why do you need to
set up a planning unit? What you need to do is to give us that money so that we can
invest it in making provision for clinical stuff. They couldn't see the value of
setting up, using scarce resources in for example setting up a planning unit when
there were very obvious gaps in terms of providing clinical services. So there was
always this struggle between these other important supportive services and the
actual service delivery because they felt that's where the emphasis should be and
there was a kind of rigidity and I always saw, and that was why I was so interested
in seeing why this expansive approach which included clinical services was
adopted. I think you could have set up a 3 floor building just to deliver services.
That may be so but ....
To me it is novel. It is innovative and it shows a recognition of those other
important factors that one needs to pay attention to and the kind of
interrelationships and linkage between all these things, and it's not that others
didn't recognize it but if you are talking about allocating resources they are going
to say this is where it should go.
What you have just said is very, very pertinent in that it's a question of
resources. It's a question of finances. It's a question of protecting, each one
protecting their turf and the thing about this, why this got off the ground at all, as
you said it's not a matter that it was not appreciated to varying degrees by others,
but the fact that one brought it whole, it was put to them on a platter so to speak.
The finances we did not encroach on their finances. I think it was necessary to get
finances to do it and to dispense it how we wanted to do it. I am talking about we,
not selfishly we, but we incorporating all the sources, and being able to deliver
because we tapped on expertise for lectures, both here and the territories, on
UWIDITE when we came into using it and lectures were not freely given. I mean
this was financed as well and the lecturers' per diem and I think without taking all
the credit- I can't take all the credit. You are asking me personally, but there were
so many people involved and so many people who actually came around to
participating because in every area they felt, I think each person felt, that goodness
me here is an avenue through which I can make a contribution, and I think I am
right in saying that people felt that it would not 'encroach on my resources and
therefore here is an opportunity where I can contribute'. I don't think they looked
at it in a selfish way. I think there was a lot of goodwill, a lot of enthusiasm and
after all it was something new. And I think people were probably stagnant in their
areas and were looking for an opportunity. And, well, the Unit, me personally was
extremely grateful for that, and it's amazing where it touched, the people it
touched even as we went around evaluating on the different occasions every two
years or so. It was extremely rewarding. We've met frustrations. We met
resistance, not in a derogatory way in areas where people were suspicious at what
it was all about, even within our own camp, I suppose. I personally, looking back
on the Unit as we stand now, the 30 years, I would certainly be grateful and happy
that it has reached where it's at and that over the years we had not really settled on
one thing but we have introduced other things to the extent that now we are talking
about international recognition, which it had, you know. When one looks at the
population award, the United Nations recognition of the Unit although it was made
personally it was not personally given to me but it was recognition of the Unit.
And so the international recognition was there. Now my successor looks to
expand in other areas which we, over the years, we have been able to lay the
foundations. We must take the credit for that because it meant finances. And
everything was laid on.
I don't know if there is anything left to say. You will probably look at it and
find out that there is more I could talk about. I could talk about my hurdles and my
We need that because it is right here.
It can be couched in a way that makes it palatable.
Palatable but nauseating, I can go back, go back to my student days I
suppose and start from then.
Let me just say that today is Wednesday February 28, 2007 and this is
interview number 3 with Professor Hugh Wynter
Then and Now
Let me pick up where we are at the beginning of the University and I felt I
had to be a part of this thing. I think I mentioned it before.
Yes, yes with the opening with Princess Alice and that lot. Yes you did.
Mmm, you said something about disappointments?
Yes, the challenges and perhaps disappointments, or the hurdles and
disappointments, however you want to coin it.
You will be omitting things, won' you?
And when we are writing it you will see it.
I think over the course of development of anybody's life or institution there
are some things that happen. Some of them are institutional which we 'kind of
have no control over but they might have an impact on us in terms of our progress
and opportunity, and some of them are personal in terms of ourselves and some of
them are environmental taking in the wide relationships, you know. So I think that
it would probably be useful if we think of them in those ways. And, if there are
important ones which have been resolved or which you see will be resolved
somewhere in the future because we see things, we work towards them but we
ourselves are not beneficiaries of them, so that, for example, you would have been
involved in the training of many persons involved in Obstetrics and Gynaecology
through this University over an extended period of time. What have been some of
those challenges, gaps or whatever that over time, because things have changed
now, this newer set or the younger set would benefit or are benefitting from your
telling? So that given your passage things have been made better for those who
follow even for others to come.
I don't know if I have any of that, but anyway. Just refresh my memory. Did
I mention not getting through first MB the first time? And how I met my wife?
Yes, we have that.
Oh Lord. Alright so move from there now. I came through medical school
partly without problems from the point of view of academic work. I qualified and
at that stage I can't say that I had elected to do Obstetrics and Gynaecology. But
certainly I seemed to have had a flair, or perhaps a liking, for the specialty. I can
recall that our class had only some 16 in number. The weeding out process of the
University at that time was quite harsh. It happened that I ended my Obstetrics
clerkship with 59 deliveries which was a record but I was a bit disappointed that I
didn't quite round it off with another delivery. Subsequent to the clerkship and
doing a medicine clerkship I happened to be passing the labour ward and a lady
was coming in to be delivered well in the advanced stages and the medical student
assigned was not around. So I popped in and Sister gave me permission to do my
60th delivery which made a record at that time, probably still is in that the larger
classes coming after us, in the division or distribution of students there would be a
larger number to share the number of deliveries. But, that's neither here nor there.
I can only use this as perhaps the reason why I was drawn to this specialty.
Anyway, I did not rush into it by any means. I took my time and I got assignments
throughout the hospital at that time. I did my second clerkship in Surgery. I went
into Medicine, general Medicine and I went and did Paediatrics as a clerkship. I
did casualty and came back to Obstetrics and Gynaecology. I was lucky enough to
get one of the two resident's posts that were available. It's ironical that there were
two registrars at that time compared to now where the work is divided into some 8
or 10 now making life that much easier I suppose, I hope. Then there were things
as residents we had to do. I will give you couple of examples. It was not unusual
that when we were assigned to the Gynae clinic to be called to Casualty because of
a query about ectopic pregnancy in Casualty. We would leave the clinic and
confirm that. You would get your bloods off yourself. You would rush down to
the Blood Bank which was stationed in the Hospital. You would cross match your
own blood for your patient. You would contact theatre and make the
arrangements. You would go back to the Gynae clinic and depending on how
urgent the case was, maybe you were interrupted in the clinic again to go to theatre
to do the case and then after doing the case you were back into the clinic to finish
what was a full day. Sometimes the clinic which started at 2 pm maybe finished,
ended at 7 or 8 at night. Certainly, the Consultants were few and far between too. I
can think of perhaps four at that time. The Professor was in the clinic along with
the Registrar/Resident and the Houseman. That just gave an idea of the daily
deployment of activities.
Is it pretty much the same now?
No. but I mean the person doing the clinic would not be interrupted from the
clinic because they have personnel to cover the emergencies. The fact that the
cross matching of blood is done by technicians in the Blood Bank officially, they
wouldn't know how or have to do that.
So there is now more specialization, would you say in that you now have
technicians. I mean there is a lot more division of labour, of work.
Well, it was more a responsibility that we had to do. I wouldn't say
specialization. The Blood Bank people were available but they were short staffed
too. In order to get it done we had to go and expedite it.
Is it that then you perhaps were more of a generalist than people are now
because people are more specialized now?
Would somebody now do the kind of footwork that you did then?
The responsibility is probably deployed to other people, yes. Then the
Houseman was in the clinic with you, no one else was in the clinic with you so one
or other of you had to go to see this case in Casualty, and of course you are the
more experienced and you have to make the decision anyway, so you went. Today
there are other Housemen, not four but probably eight, probably ten for all I know.
There'll be somebody who will be called to do that. In other words, working in the
clinic now you are not on emergency duty. It is someone else's responsibility.
Having responded to the call then, you would probably take off your bloods, as I
suppose they do today, and send it to be cross matched. They are deprived of that
experience and that exposure now, but not as a detraction from their specialization.
I have a question out of my own interest because I am looking at another life.
I am looking at the whole area of health reform and service delivery and quality
assurance. And I am just thinking, okay we have more persons, more skilled
persons, and I am just wondering, over the years of your experience, what would
you say about quality?
You were referring to quality of service by virtue of the changes with more
personnel. I would think that one would like to accept the fact that with more
personnel, and you must remember the techniques within the service also
improved, changed. The screening of blood today for that matter is not so much an
Obstetrics or Gynac prerogative, but we were able to use the opportunity in the
best of faith perhaps and with confidence at the time to perform the duties as we
were expected to do With the improvement in what I think of as peripheral actions
of the Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at that time, peripheral from the fact that it's
not directly a part of his training but is a part of what is required for him to get his
work done, now that responsibility is developed by other people as a sort of
adjunct to his work. It's now left totally to others and quite wisely so, because one
would expect better quality of production of the material or better availability of
what is required for the Gynaecologist or the Surgeon, if you were to refer to
another specialty, an allied specialty, what he requires to get on with his work. So,
one would expect that quality would be better today than it was then but if one
were to look statistically you can't say that was wrong, the system of 40 years ago.
We used what we had with the knowledge, applying the knowledge that we had at
the time and service was alright and cannot really be knocked. This can only be
proved by statistical analysis but I can't think back on errors so to speak. I am
talking about broadly errors which accounted for the fact that we were few and far
in numbers. It was trying on the people that worked then. If there is a complaint
about pressure of work today I would laugh when I hear them talk about it, for the
pressure of work then, such as going four days and the intervening three nights
nonstop was an experience.
I am thinking about the quality of it on two levels really, in terms of the
statistical, the numbers, but more so in terms of the character, the other qualitative
aspect of it, you know. There are some objective things that one could look at in
terms of how long do you wait to get service, and I have been looking at some data
out of the Ministry of Health where they have done some client surveys and the
University was included, the University Hospital. And one of the main things is
that people say they wait too long to get service. They do believe that the quality of
the service from where they stand- they are not really able to make definitive
judgement on the technical aspect of the service -but they guess from the outcomes
and what happens to other people and so on there is what I would say is an
appreciable level of confidence in the quality of the service that they receive. So
that's not a big area where they feel they are getting poor service or service that is
less than competent. But certainly in terms of the other softer areas, being able to
talk to the Physician, the amount of time the Physician spends with them to just
make sure that they understand and so on, those are the areas they have problems
with. Well, I should say, anecdotally, when people who have had experience with
older, more mature Physicians such as yourself and younger ones the difference,
the dividing line that they make, is in terms of the treatment, the interaction, the
soft element that is difficult to measure but it is of critical importance.
The interpersonal type of issues.
And Profit seems you are a master of that because, I mean, I hear it all the
time. People talk about the way you care for them as a Physician as opposed to
other persons and I think that when you talk about new graduates, persons who
have graduated over the last few years, you know that's something different. They
wonder what is happening.
Well, I don't know that I can quite satisfy those...
No, no it's not something that you can or you can't, you know. Joan, you've
Mmm, but you see it. You experience it yourself.
You see it you experience it and they wonder what is happening to the
training, if it is related to it. But I think it is related to a lot of other factors
including what they are coming out of and so on.
Well, there are a lot of things which come into play with regards to that, in
that let's look at a basic thing of the intake of the number of students. I wouldn't
like to say that their experience as an undergraduate, as a student, is watered down
in any way, but there were fewer students around then for the same number of
patients, which means that hands -on was greater with the lesser number. But at
the same time, going along with this is the fact that you talk about more recently,
treating the entire patient, the holistic approach to the patient. That may be so too.
A lot of patients only want to talk, and very often just listening is a helpful factor
when the patients virtually I would like to put treat in inverted commas treat
themselves by virtue of just getting this load off their minds by telling the problem.
And this coupled along with it is the whole concept that experience replaces book
knowledge. I think as I went through life I would stand at one side of the bed or for
that matter the foot of the bed on the ward with the patient being demonstrated, or
even the student being questioned about the patient. Then the Registrar/Resident
would have to do more to get to a decision, not that he is doing it wrongly, he is
going through the steps which he has to do to eventually come to a conclusion.
While with experience you stand at the foot of the bed and just looking at the
patient the answer may very well be there. But you're teaching so you wait for him
or her to go through the motions. And over the years, eventually, he or she will
come to that sort of approach. It's amazing, it's not as clear cut as that to just say
experience; you must remember that there are things coming up daily as I
mentioned about that lady, that is new to you too and you then may very well have
to go through the same steps that your young colleague had to do in order to come
to a decision.
So it is a process, it is an orientation that you have but you can short cut that
if you have the experience. I mean that you can move rapidly through it if you
have the experience.
Mentally, yes, if not you have to go through it. And I think that is the basic
difference that you will find with the young doctor compared to the consultant.
Don't forget that there are certain things that the Consultant may be faced with and
in the advancement over the years of his activities that he still has to go back to the
basics and even to ask the youngsters what is it, what is happening today. And I
think it's the wise Consultant that can realize that this is important in his practice.
We can get back on track. (Laughter)
Then there are other changes over the years. The curriculum has changed. I
myself was a bit skeptical about the fact that the pre-clinical students were being
thrown, I am not being disparaging about that, exposed, perhaps I should say, to
patients' regimes, in that they did Community Health and they were out in the field
seeing patients at clinics outside and I was a little concerned about it.
And what about the ethical side of it?
The ethical side of it? But they are not responsible. They are working with
qualified people who take the responsibility. Let's face it. If an Intern or Resident
does something wrong on the ward, it's not his or her responsibility at all. The
responsibility is the senior people and for that matter it comes to the head of the
Unit who has to take the legal brunt of it all.
I think I can work with that better than the pre-clinical.
I don't think they [the pre-clinicals] were allowed to dispense or to
prescribe. It's just a matter of, in their coming through the system, I thought that
activity was premature. You may want to ask where is the zoology and the botany,
the biochemistry that I had to do at the time? Where is the anatomy and physiology
and pharmacology that I had to do and to pass those exams at a certain level before
I came up to the hospital? Oh yes, I can remember Shaun, my son, I never had to
send them to do their homework even from Prep School. I asked them if it was
done and that was that. And he came through medicine without having any
discussions about his training with his mother and myself until one evening he
came and was talking about the abdominal wall. And I thought it very strange that
he came to me at all because he was quite green and I mentioned some things about
the layers of the abdominal wall and he was flabbergasted. He was just doing his
anatomy. "Daddy, how can you remember that?" I said to him, "Did I answer
right" and he said "Yes". I said "Don't be silly. I am cutting the abdomen every
day and although I have done this some years ago I still remember. It's there, the
basic knowledge remains with you. So you dismiss a number of things which
perhaps you may never use in life. But certainly having been taught somewhere
it's hidden in the recesses of the brain which comes of value and of use in later life.
Now, if this is being short changed at the expense of exposing them prematurely to
using a stethoscope and knowing what skipped heart beats are all about, it was a bit
of a concern. But that has gone through and I don't think that, well let me be a bit
personal, I have seen Zoe [his daughter] coming through much later and I cannot
say that she has been any the worse for that system. It has proven itself in
So what you are saying is that having been a product of the system, you have
had the opportunity to interact with persons who have come out of the system at
different points in time and you have not been able to detect that there has been any
kind of compromise. So, basically, people are coming out with the skills that they
need to have. So it's not like the quality has deteriorated.
Well, it's refreshing, very refreshing, consoling to know that this is so. To
realize that their experiences, their exposures might have been different in time but
the core remains. That goes for the changes in the teaching approaches as well, the
concepts which are projected on to the students while bringing out the same
quality in the end. I think if there are complaints as there must be and will be, they
are probably complaints based on individuals because, lets face it, train A in
medicine and train B in medicine, their personalities are there. You can't account
for that. You can influence by simple things like the way you, well I am thinking
of bedside you, by virtue of your mannerisms, to use it in a broad sense, can
probably influence people but you cannot sort of pin them down and tell them
look, apart from ethics, apart from the basic ethics, how to behave.
I think that really what is coming through is there is this whole thing about
customer service and client service and people on the front line when you go into
establishments. I mean you can't rate one person over another but that there should
be some basic, some standard below which one does not fall. And so one has to
recognize that when you go for health service in a way it's almost akin, I remember
Ben Henry making this comparison, to go for hospitality. It has a heavy hospitality
component. It has a heavy technical component, yes, but there is a hospitality
aspect to it that people must be welcome and comfortable to be able to deal with
their whole health situation and to get that responded to. So that when you go into
a hospital even before you get to the technical aspects there are some hospitality
things you have to deal with. When you go in, is the place clean? Is the reception
whatever? Are you directed to where you have to go to without having to climb 10
Well, it's quite amazing. You have put me on another line in mentioning
this. I can recall an incident for instance, it may be quite trivial, that in entering a
ward in those days as a Consultant, the Sister approached you and as we were told
Sister ruled the ward, you get permission from the Sister to go and see your patient,
okay. A visitor comes into the ward and as a visitor, as you were alluding to, be it
visiting hours or otherwise, and the senior nurse sits while the person comes and
asks to see the relative. I can recall one instance when I happened to be at the desk
as a Resident/Registrar, and this person came in and asked could he see someone,
he was quite polite about it, and the nurse in charge was sitting there and she barely
lifted her eyes to him and said "Oh, she is on bed so and so". And after the person
went off I couldn't help but say "Look, this is not right. Somebody comes, it's not
subservient to stand and speak to them. You are in charge of the ward and
somebody has entered your ward." I said "Did you look at the person?" "No."
Did you look at his collar? His collar was back to front. It's a Minister of Religion
and as far as I am concerned he is far rr unportant for that person, that patient,
than I am at this moment in time." I thought it was very discourteous. Now these
are things that I think have been made to slip, like so many other things.
I find that if I am going on to one of the wards to visit somebody who is there
I have to get myself in a certain frame of mind to go because you go in and they
ignore you. It's like you are fighting to get in and they say I have never been in
this place before I don't know, bed so and so, down there if they manage to flash
their hand in a direction and you walk down, so I walk down and it is probable that
you go down you have to turn back.
It happened to me recently. I went in to see a gentleman on the medical side.
Now I don't expect them to know who I am, let's face it, over in that department.
But I went in and I saw a nurse who could be in charge in that she was in white
uniform and there were about three student nurses they had on striped whatever it
is- sitting at the desk. Opposite to the desk facing in, with her back to the ward, was
a young lady with a stethoscope around her neck. Now, I cannot assume she was a
doctor because nurses walk with stethoscopes around their necks now. You
couldn't in our time. It had to be in your pocket. And so I approached, and I saw
the person [I came to visit] on the nearest bed so I introduced myself and said could
I see Mr. so and so. It was a male ward. I couldn't get an answer from any of them.
They sort of looked up as if I was something the cat brought in. I think they were in
no position to say, these trainees. The person who was responsible was looking
into a folder, a box folder, with her back to me and must have said alright, I
assume, or did I assume she said okay? I said could I see Mr. so and so. He is on
that bed. I didn't stay very long, a matter of two or three minutes because he was a
cardiac case and he was a bit talkative and I didn't want that. And I turned back to
say thank you to the desk, just as well it was the desk because this person who was
sitting with the glasses, working on a docket had not yet looked up on me. And I
said to her "well thank you very much". Another doctor came in and spoke to me;
Junior Resident spoke to me, addressed me and went about his business. I came
back to the desk and eventually I started to get a bit concerned, perhaps a bit
annoyed and I turned to this lady with the stethoscope and I said to her "tell me
something, what stage in your career are you?" Oh, still writing head down on the
paper, "I am doing my residency", first or second year whatever it is. And so I said
"So you graduated 2 or 3 years ago". "Yes." "So I must have taught you." "Yes,"
was her answer. She had not put down the pen. She had not moved her eyes up to
me and her answer was yes. Now that's not 10 years ago when she could have
forgotten who I was, but those of 10 years ago would remember. Two years ago
just before I retired she was perhaps in the last or penultimate batch of students
whom I held tutorials with.
Our common courtesies are lost.
And I said "I must have taught you then". She said "Yes". I won't tell you
the fact of who she was until this thing is switched off. I was so flabbergasted. I
did not go back. The gentleman left hospital and subsequently died, anyway.
These are the things that have added the rough edges to the hospital or institutional
And Prof., if you could have had that experience you can imagine what
happens to other people.
Another thing that happened to me too, a little thing like this, a patient was
crying out for a bed pan. I was a Consultant. She was crying. The neighbour in the
next bed is shouting to the nurse. I mean I looked around and there were probably
two nurses on the entire ward, so she probably had to wait for the bed pan. But I
wasn't doing anything. I was going into the ward to see someone or I was coming
out of the ward having seen somebody. There was nothing wrong for me to go in
the sluice room and take up a bed pan and give the lady. Now the senior nurses
don't give bed pans.
That is not your duty.
Now these are things that are connected. I think maybe they are taught to do
this. Maybe it is the system. Am I to accept this or am I old fashioned and it's
infradig? Is that the new concept that instead of saying that nursing is a parallel
occupation, a parallel specialization, no, it's based on the fact that nurses are no
longer subservient to doctors. This is what is pushed into them
But, but experienced nurses were never subservient to doctors anyway.
Nobody was subservient.
But I don't look at any of them as being subservient. It's two parallel
professions which dovetail along the way.
My nursing sisters were certainly not subservient to anybody. They would
get hold of everybody, anybody who was junior, they would get hold of them,
whether it were medical person or nursing person and set them straight.
Well of course the junior doctor must realize as I said, one of the first things
that Professor Cruikshank said to us as young students coming in "Remember,
Sister rules the ward". It is her ward. Now, is this a fact today? I don't think so. I
don't think it is. That sort of... maybe nobody is responsible.
You go in and it is like a shifting thing. And it is as if nobody cares.
Recently, very recently I was going to visit, to meet a young baby who had
just been delivered of friends of our family. On entering, you go down into the
ward, and you are faced with a partitioning cluttered with a whole lot of paper.
Nobody is reading them because there are too many there to read. You think, is this
a ward, where newborn babies are, because these things can be dusty as well.
That is what I was thinking. You don't want babies in that kind of situation.
That sort of thing has changed
And that's part of the quality because when I go into a place to get service
the first thing that hits you is the appearance, you know, the whole ambience of the
place. And if it is not clean I am not going in at all. That is really the crux of the
matter. Where did this thing start? I find it quite annoying.
Joan, can you turn this one off?
Professor Wynter's closing comments for the article.
Thank you Pansy and Joan for bringing this about and I hope that you feel
that your time was well spent.
My thanks must go to all who played a role in my life to bring me to this
point, this moment in life- my parents, siblings, teachers, colleagues (medical,
nursing, administrative & ancillary staff) and my patients who gave me the
opportunity to be of service.
Special thanks must go to those who initiated the work of the Fertility
Management Unit in all areas, administration, teaching, research, clinical areas
.and also to those who have continued on the path of progress.
I must single out my life's partner of 50 years plus student days (56) Dorrie
(Professor King) has done so much for our University throughout the years and
especially as Professor of Microbiology and Head of the Department, the
Department with the largest number of staff. Through grants and funds collected
she was able to extend the physical structure of the building. She is not in my
shadow but stand well as her own and beside me all the way.
Our Children Shaun, David, and Zoe, and Grandchildren Christopher,
Kimberly, and Timothy have all been there for me. But above everything, I
THANK GOD FOR HIS MANY BLESSINGS.
I close wishing you all well for the future, my successor Professor Joseph
Frederick and staff; those current and all who in the future may come to work
within those walls Thank you again and again Pansy and Joan.
NOTES AND COMMENTS
The Climate Studies Group Mona:
TANNECIA S. STEPHENSON, A. ANTHONY CHEN AND
MICHAEL A. TAYLOR
The Climate Studies Group Mona (CSGM) was launched in 1994, in the
Department of Physics, the University of the West Indies, Mona campus. The
initiative was set in motion by Professor the Honourable A. Anthony Chen, O.M.,
Professor of Applied Physics. During the formative years we were given valuable
assistance from by the Centre for Ocean Land Atmosphere Studies (COLA), the
Inter American Institute (IAI) for A Global Change Research and The University
of the West Indies Research Fellowship Programme. The group, which now
comprises lecturers, postgraduate and undergraduate students, and associate
members (former students), has made significant contributions to the study of
Caribbean climate. These include, identifying atmospheric and oceanic influences
on our climate, investigating climate change and its impact, isolating the relation
between climate and crop yield for sugar cane, climate and incidences of dengue
fever outbreak, and investigating renewable energy prospects for Jamaica. This
article outlines the work of the CSGM and its significance in a local, regional and
At its inception, the primary aim of CSGM was to learn the techniques of
dynamic modelling of climate by numerical models. Since then, however, the
group's activities have expanded to include applications of climate prediction,
projections of regional climate change, and prospecting for alternative energy
resources as a means of reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
Therefore the mission of the CSGM is as follows:-
To investigate and understand the mechanisms responsible for a) the
mean climate and b) extremes in climate in both Jamaica and the wider
To use this understanding to predict climate on a seasonal and annual
To promote awareness of global warming and to determine how
anthropogenic climate change will manifest itself in the Caribbean
To investigate the potential for exploiting renewable energy resources;
To investigate and promote the advantageous uses of climate prediction
in socio-economic sectors
Over the last 14 years, the CSGM has been involved in ground-breaking
research that has resulted in significant contributions to atmospheric science and
society. These include:
The mapping of the average solar radiation available to Jamaica, the
results of which highlight the strong prospects of solar photovoltaics
The modelling of wind speed and power across Jamaica, thereby
identifying regions with good potential for utility-scale wind power.
Identifying an increase in early season (May-July) rainfall amounts in the
year following the onset of an El Nifo event. This is in contrast to the
amplified dryness over the Caribbean frequently reported in literature in
relation to the onset of El Nino.
Elucidating the impact of meteorological drought on sugar cane
Clarifying the role of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in modulating
seasonal rainfall over the Caribbean and adjacent Caribbean regions.
The issuing of seasonal Precipitation Outlooks for Jamaica, made
possible by the creation of statistical models for the early (May-July) and
late (August-October) rainfall seasons for the Caribbean and mid-dry
season (January-February) rainfall for the eastern Caribbean and
Proposing the atmospheric circulation patterns that facilitate the rainfall
gradient pattern evident during the dry season (November-April) for the
mature El Nino. It was found that the gradient pattern involved higher
than normal rainfall over the northern Caribbean (north of 200) and
below normal over the southern Caribbean in relation to El Nifo.
Identifying the evidence of climate change over the Caribbean
particularly with respect to temperature.
The development of a Caribbean Climate Interactive Database. This has
facilitated easier access and manipulation of meteorological data for
stations across the Caribbean.
The Generation of future scenarios of precipitation and temperature
change over the Caribbean.
Investigating the relationship between Climate and Dengue, thereby
using climate indices to predict dengue outbreaks as part of an early
These projects were done in collaboration with local, regional and
international agencies such as the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, Sugar
Research Institute of Jamaica, Meteorological Service of Jamaica and other
National Meteorology Centres in the region, the Caribbean Institute for
Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), the Caribbean Community Climate Change
Centre (CCCCC), the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), the
Inter-American Institute (IAI) for Global Change Research, START and Third
World Academy of Science (TWAS), the International Research Institute (IRI),
the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Climatic Research Unit
(CRU), Environmental Canada and the United States Department of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National
Climatic Data Center (NCDC). The results have been published in local and
international peer reviewed journals or presented at various workshops and
Current research activities
Research is currently in progress on the following:
The study of climate variability and its impact on Dengue for the Caribbean
Climate Impacts on sugar cane and modelling of Cane yields at Worthy Park
Sugar Estate, Jamaica
The generation of climate change scenarios using statistical downscaling
with applications to Health, Dengue and Water resources, and recommending
associated adaptation strategies.
The generation of climate change scenarios for the Caribbean using the
PRECIS (Providing Regional Climates for Impact Studies) model.
An assessment of the knowledge gaps in understanding the impact of
climate change on bio-diversity and development of projects to study these
Investigating Caribbean climate dynamics including tropical cyclogenesis
over the Atlantic using a suite of regional climate models
The characterization and dynamical modelling of the strong low level winds
over the Caribbean dubbed the Caribbean low level jet.
The pinnacle of the achievements of the CSGM has been the involvement of
the Honourable Professor A. Anthony Chen, founder of the group, as a member of
Working Group One in the 2007 Nobel Peace laureate Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC). Professor Chen was lead author of a chapter titled
"Regional Climate Projections" (Chapter 11) in Climate Change 2007: The
The CSGM has to date had more than 40 publications in local and
international scientific journals, including book chapters and reports. The group
CSGM has also published several conference papers.
The work of the CSGM continues to contribute to the expansion of our
understanding of the climate for Caribbean and its link to socio-economic sectors
such as health and agriculture.
Members of CSGM are involved in: generating climate scenarios; studying
the impacts of climate on the health sector and recommending adaptation
measures necessary to cope with these impacts; assessing the knowledge gaps in
understanding the impact of climate change on bio-diversity and development of
projects to study these impacts.
Institutions in collaboration with CSCM are; IAI, CANARI (the Caribbean Natural
Resources Institute) Environmental Canada, IRI, 5C's, Univ of East Anglia
Information on Contributors
Mohammed H. Ahmad
A. Anthony Chen
Sylvia A. Mitchell,
Tannecia S. Stephenson
Michael A. Taylor
is Professor of Biotechnology, and
Director, Biotechnology Centre, UWI, Mona
is Professor Emeritus, Physics,
now deceased was a Senior
Lecturer, Botany, UWI, Mona
and Guest Editor for CQ
is a graduate student, Biotechnology
Centre, UWI, Mona
is Research Fellow, The Hugh Wynter
Fertility Management Unit, Faculty of
Medicine, UWI, Mona
is a graduate student, Biotechnology
Centre, UWI, Mona
is Professor, Department of Biological
Sciences, Dalhousie University, Canada
Guest Editor and Member of Editorial
Board, Caribbean Quarterly was Senior
Lecturer, Physics, UWI, Mona
is the Training Officer, The Hugh
Wynter Fertility Management Unit, Faculty
of Medicine, UWI, Mona
is Lecturer, Biotechnology Centre, and
Director of MPRG, UWI, Mona
is a graduate student, Biotechnology
Centre, UWI, Mona
is a graduate student, Biotechnology
Centre, UWI, Mona
is a lecturer, Dept. Physics, UWI, Mona
is a lecturer, Dept. Physics, UWI, Mona
is Professor Emeritus, UWI, Mona