Dr Kenneth Connell, a lecturer at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Cave Hill Campus, is among 16 international experts, chosen by the World Health Organization (WHO) to form a Guideline Development Group (GDG) for the diagnosis and pharmacological treatment of hypertension in adults.
The announcement came as the international community recognised World Hypertension Day on May 17.
According to WHO, guidelines dealing specifically with raised blood pressure were last published 20 years ago in 1999 and are overdue for an update. Dr Connell and his colleagues on the newly established GDG, are expected to focus on an extensive review of the best available evidence and expert opinion. They will then develop a final document that is likely to set an international standard for the management of hypertension globally.
Commenting on the news, Dr Connell remarked “I consider this nomination one of the most significant professional recognitions in my relatively early career as an academic. I remember using the WHO guidelines as a medical student, back in 1999, and respected them as the authoritative source of information for the management of hypertension in adults. The members of the GDG are all leaders in the field, and it is truly an honour to be recognised as an equal within this group. I will represent both the people of the region and The UWI in Geneva in the deliberations on the new guidelines.”
Dr Connell is the only Caribbean member in the Group. His appointment is testament of the recognition of his expertise in the discipline of hypertension science as well as a larger endorsement of the contributions made by the region and The UWI.
Dr Connell joined the Faculty of Medical Sciences, Cave Hill Campus, UWI in 2011 and held the office of Deputy Dean, Preclinical Sciences from 2014 to 2017. Among his academic accomplishments, he was Principal Investigator on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/ Pan American Health Organization Standardized Hypertension Treatment Project – Barbados pilot from April 2014 to April 2016. He is currently a lecturer in Clinical Pharmacology at the Cave Hill Campus as well as an expert consultant for the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the WHO Global Hearts Initiative, a programme of health system interventions to improve blood pressure outcomes.