The secret to reducing high susceptibility to lifestyle diseases known as NCDs may lie in the West African DNA most Barbadians carry, a University of the West Indies medical researcher has suggested.
Research in this area is expected to be explored through greater collaboration between the University of the West Indies and University of Ghana.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop ties between the two universities was signed on Thursday by Principal of the UWI Cave Hill Campus Professor Eudine Barriteau, UWI Pro Vice Chancellor Sir Hillary Beckles and University of Ghana Vice Chancellor Professor Ebenezer Owusu.
Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacology, Dr Kenneth Connell, gave insight into how Faculty of Medicine’s ongoing research into chronic non-communicable diseases, such as hypertension, stroke and diabetes, would benefit from working with the leading West African university.
“The main driver into hypertension in Caribbean is sodium and how our bodies handle it. This is very similar to what still occurs in West Africa. There are several postulations of theories as to why this has happened and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade is one of them,” said Connell.
This research was not merely an academic exercise as the hope is better formulate better management of these diseases, he said.
“We plan to thoroughly dissect these theories not just as an academic exercise but for the benefit of both populations and the way we manage these NCDs. The link also to diabetes may also be unique to the African diaspora so we are excited,” said Connell.
He further explained “at this point in our history we have for the very first time a clear dichotomy in the way hypertension is managed between black and non-black. So we are happy that change has already started and we hope that our research enables us to add to this conversation.”
Connell also noted that it is now currently recognized that a one-size-fits-all approach could no longer be applied to the use of drugs to treat NCDs and it was therefore important that Barbados and the rest of the region narrow down effective measures unique to its genetic makeup. (CM)