Vincent Atkins is Trade Policy and Technical Advisor to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Less Developed Countries (LDCs) , Office of Trade Negotiations, CARICOM Secretariat, in Barbados. He has been involved in the negotiations of international trade agreements since 2001, representing the Caribbean Community in several negotiating fora in the area of agricultural trade.
Mr Atkins’ current responsibilities include coordination of market access in goods negotiations and conduct of technical and analytical studies on trade issues of particular interest to CARICOM LDCs. Since 2007 Mr Atkins has also undertaken work related to assessing the implications of global trade policies for the control and prevention of obesity, particularly for developing countries. He is a co-author of the book,” Food, Trade, Diet and Health”, published by Wildey-Blackwell in 2010. In November Mr Atkins was appointed as a Commissioner to the Lancet Commission on Obesity established jointly by The Lancet Journal, World Obesity Federation, University of Auckland and George Washington University to stimulate action and strengthen accountability systems for the implementation of agreed recommendations to reduce obesity and its related inequalities. Mr Atkins’ contribution to the Commission will be in the fields of law, agriculture and trade.
Mr Atkins has a Bachelors degree in Economics with First Class Honours from the University of the West Indies (1988), an MSc in Agricultural Economics from the University of Florida (1991), Gainesville, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of London (2007). He also holds a diploma for graduates in International Relations from the University of London (2011).
Vincent Atkins – Trade Policy Advisor – Joined HCC in 2014.
Mrs. Nicole Foster – Policy Advisor
Mrs. Foster is a former international trade diplomat with expertise in international law, international trade and international organisations. As Policy Advisor, Mrs. Foster will provide legal advice and comments on the different projects the HCC is engaged with, as appropriate, based on her expertise and professional commitments as an employee of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados. Mrs. Foster’s focus is primarily on international trade policy, international trade negotiations and the intersection between trade and health, but will not necessarily be limited to those areas. Mrs. Foster is acting in a volunteer capacity, offering her services and expertise as public service.
Nicole Foster – Policy Advisor – Joined HCC in 2015.
Dr. Christina Howitt – Physical Activity Advisor
Christina Howitt earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacology from the University of Bristol in 2003, and then her Master of Science degree in Control of Infectious Disease from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2005.
She worked as a Clinical Trial Manager with the MRC Clinical Trials Unit in London, before returning to Barbados in 2009 to join the CDRC as a Lecturer in Data Science and PhD student. She managed the Health of the Nation Survey, which investigated non-communicable diseases and their risk factors in the Barbadian population. Her PhD work focuses on physical activity and metabolic health.
Christine Howitt – Physical Activity Advisor – Joined HCC in 2016.
Dr. Rohan Maharaj – Alcohol Policy Advisor
Dr. Rohan Maharaj is a Senior Lecturer in Family Medicine and a Fellow of the Caribbean College of Family Physicians. He coordinates the postgraduate program in Family Medicine at the Faculty of Medical Sciences, St. Augustine, which has trained over 100 family physicians. His main research interest has been mental health and chronic disease in the Caribbean primary care population. This work has lead to over 40 journal articles, many of which were summarized in the 2009 book ‘Psychosocial Issues In West Indian Primary Health Care’. He is currently active in clinical practice, an editor with the Caribbean Medical Journal, and is also the principal investigator (Trinidad site) on the Eastern Caribbean Health Outcomes Research Network (ECHORN) which is a 5 year cohort study in collaboration with Yale University.
As an extension of his interest in mental health and chronic disease, Dr. Maharaj has been working since 2012-14 on alcohol issues in Trinidad and Tobago and with the Healthy Caribbean Coalition on alcohol policy in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Rohan Maharaj – Alcohol Policy Advisor – Joined HCC in 2015.
Mrs. Barbara McGaw – Tobacco Control Advisor
Mrs. McGaw has informally advised the HCC since its inception on all matters related to tobacco control.
Since June 2016, Mrs. McGaw has been volunteering as tobacco adviser to the JCTC. Prior to that she was the Project Manager Tobacco Control for the Heart Foundation of Jamaica/Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control (JCTC) and successfully managed the tobacco control project grants since 2008.
Mrs McGaw’s background is primarily science based. Her academic background includes a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Science from the University of the West Indies (UWI) and further studies with a postgraduate Management Diploma from a Leicester University (UK) and courses in Project Management. Mrs McGaw has also completed leadership and certificate courses through the Institute for Global Tobacco Control, John Hopkins School of Public Health. The online course Global Tobacco Control: Learning From the experts in 2010, the Global Tobacco Control Leadership Programme in 2010 and the Global Tobacco Control Certificate Programme in 2012.
Mrs McGaw has presented at several regional and international conferences on regional project successes in tobacco control, including the 4th Latin America and Caribbean Conference Tobacco Or Health San Jose Costa Rica March 2014, the International Conference on Public Health Priorities in the 21st Century, Delhi, India September 2013, the 15th World Conference on Tobacco or Health, Singapore, March 2012 and the 2nd SRNT IAHF Conference Mexico City Mexico October, 2009, the 14th World Conference on Tobacco or Health, Mumbai India, March 2009.
Barbara McGaw – Tobacco Control Policy Advisor – Joined HCC in 2017* (*Informally since 2008)
Tara Lisa Persaud – Our Views Our Voices Technical Advisor
Tara Lisa is a health advocate and a international development professional who has spent the past 18 years working to improve wellbeing and increase opportunities for Caribbean people by supporting sustainable social and economic development. She has worked with governments, multilateral organisations, development institutions, and civil society on a variety of issues, with a belief that lasting transformation requires a mutli-disciplinary approach. Specific areas of focus include business climate reform, programme design, public policy, aid effectiveness, program management, gender equality, donor coordination, and monitoring and evaluation.
Over the past 6 years Tara Lisa worked with the Inter-American Development Bank on the Compete Caribbean Program, leading over 30 projects with government agencies around the Caribbean, aimed at improving investment and business facilitation. Prior to that she worked with the United Nations Development Programme, UNIFEM, UNFPA, UNICEF, and the University of the West Indies. She also led the research and negotiations for the V Summit of the Americas and the 2009 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting on behalf of the host country, Trinidad and Tobago. Emerging from this 2009 CHOGM, the Heads issued a Statement on Commonwealth Action to Combat NCDs, November 29th 2009 which was one of the catalysts for the first UN High Level Meeting on NCDs in 2011. In 2010, Tara Lisa worked on an evaluation of the Caribbean Regional NCD Surveillance System with IDB, CARPHA and UWI.
Tara Lisa holds degrees from Wellesley College and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). In 2015 she graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (NY) as a health coach where she focused on fighting chronic diseases. Tara Lisa is also a cancer survivor and has been fighting the disease since 2014.
In addition to drawing from her vast and varied professional experience, as Our Views Our Voices Technical Advisor, Tara Lisa will help the HCC to ensure that the perspective of people living with NCDs is integrated into all aspects of our work.
Tara Lisa Persaud – Our Views Our Voices Technical Advisor – Joined HCC in 2017.
Professor Alafia Samuels – Policy and Practice Advisor
Professor Alafia Samuels is the Director of the George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre, a unit of The UWI’s Caribbean Institute for Health Research, University of the West Indies. She is a medical doctor, trained at UWI Mona. She also holds a MPH (Masters in Public Health) and a PhD in Chronic Disease Epidemiology, both degrees awarded with honors from Johns Hopkins University.
She has worked for the Ministry of Health, Jamaica, as adviser to CARICOM, Advisor at the Pan American Health Organisation/WHO, and in the private and public health sectors.
She is an appointed member of the multi-sectoral Barbados National NCD (Non Communicable Diseases) Commission and was the principal author of the Barbados Ministry of Health Strategic Plan of Action for NCDs 2015-2019, and the CARICOM/PAHO Strategic Plan of Action for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases.
Her research interests include policy and practice in NCD prevention and control, clinical quality of care and evaluation of NCD programmes.
Professor Alafia Samuels – Policy and Practice Advisor – Joined HCC in 2017.