Specialty Community Paediatrics in the South West Regional Health Authority of Trinidad and Tobago: Providing services and advocating for children with disabilities

By Dr. Ravi Ragoo

Specialty Community Paediatrics is a new and expanding arm of the paediatric service provided within the public health system of Trinidad and Tobago. A good community paediatrician recognises that there are several forces such as social, spiritual and cultural beliefs that impact favourably and unfavourably on the child’s health and functioning. He/she uses all of the community’s resources in collaboration with other professionals and agencies to achieve optimal care.

Under the United Kingdom health system, Specialty Community Paediatrics covers six (6) core areas of care: developmental paediatrics, medicals for education, child protection, looked after children or children in foster care, health promotion and general paediatrics. In Trinidad and Tobago, mandatory medicals for looked after children are not yet the norm; this is an area that needs greater attention as we improve services.

Are we meeting the needs of children with disabilities in Trinidad and Tobago?

By David E. Bratt CMT, MD, MPH

Trinidad and Tobago is now in the third Phase of Child Health. The first Phase lasted approximately from around Independence (1960) when the first local paediatricians arrived home, until around 1980 and was characterized by improved and expanded immunization programmes and the decline of infectious diseases including gastroenteritis and pneumonia.

The second Phase lasted until the start of the 21st century.  During this period cardiac problems, haematological illnesses, paediatric cancers, various neurological entities and improvements in the care of newborns and “preemies” came under some sort of control.

The third Phase started at the turn of the century and is defined by Psycho-Social-Paediatrics. The problems now are those of childhood obesity and its adult effects (diabetes, heart attacks, high blood pressure & strokes); violence - both outside and inside the home; educational and above all, children with disabilities. 

Exploring the concept of "Disability" in the Caribbean

Today, 3rd December is recognised globally as the United Nations' (UN) International Day of Persons with Disabilities and promotes awareness and support for critical issues concerning the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society. The theme for 2015 is Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities.

"The right to participate in public life is essential to create stable democracies, active citizenship and reduce inequalities in society. By promoting empowerment, real opportunities for people are created. This enhances their own capacities and supports them in setting their own priorities. Empowerment involves investing in people - in jobs, health, nutrition, education, and social protection. When people are empowered they are better prepared to take advantage of opportunities, they become agents of change and can more readily embrace their civic responsibilities."
United Nations, 2015

The Transition from Pre-school to Primary School

By Deborah Khan

Good early childhood care and education has strong, long lasting, positive effects on children’s development (Hendrick & Weismann, 2010).  Early learning experiences have a decisive impact on how children function as adults and subsequently on how they affect society. Positive experiences and warm responsive care can enhance brain development. Negative experiences can do the opposite. During these formative years, there are prime times for acquiring different kinds of knowledge and skills.

Early childhood care and education is defined as group settings deliberately intended to affect children from birth to eight years of age (Gordon & Browne, 2011). In the context of this paper, the settings referred to begin with preschool, which caters for children three to five years of age and continues to the primary school through the kindergarten or the infant department. The transition between these two institutions is very significant.

"Issues and Perspectives in Early Childhood Development and Education in Caribbean Countries," edited by Dr. Carol Logie and Professor Jaipaul Roopnarine

Book issues

Issues and Perspectives in Early Childhood Development and Education in Caribbean Countries was published by Caribbean Educational Publishers (2003) Ltd. This publication was edited by Caribbean experts in the field of Early Childhood Development, Dr. Carol Logie, Administrative Director of The University of the West Indies Family Development and Children’s Research Centre and Lecturer at the School of Education, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago together with Professor Jaipaul L. Roopnarine, Adjunct Professor of Teaching and Leadership in the School of Education at Syracuse University; and a Research Scientist at the Family Development and Children’s Research Centre at The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.

New publication for practitioners in the fields of child and family development: “Childrearing Practices in the Caribbean: Lessons and Implications from a National Study in Trinidad and Tobago,” edited by Dr. Carol Logie and Dr. Jaipaul L. Roopnarine


childbearing practices book cover

The volume, Childrearing Practices in the Caribbean: Lessons and Implications from a National Study in Trinidad and Tobago, edited by Dr. Carol Logie (UWI) and Dr. Jaipaul L. Roopnarine (Syracuse University), was recently launched at The UWI-Family Development Centre (FDC) in St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. The publication analysed findings from The UWI-Family Development Centre (FDC) landmark national study in Trinidad and Tobago (1504 families from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds) that focused on the most important assets in any society—children and families. Nobel Laurates, policy experts, economists, and social scientists have pointed to the importance of investing in families and children and the potential economic and social returns (e.g., stable communities) to society from such investment.