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New Unit to Focus on Law and Health Research 

 
A new legal unit has been established at Cave Hill to help combat regional health challenges, including non-communicable diseases (NDCs). 
 
The Law and Health Research Unit seeks to develop a comprehensive toolbox to guide law and policymaking and assist in the identification of ‘good practice’ laws and policies for governments to adopt. 
 
The unit was launched last July and comes amid ample evidence of effective legal advocacy geared to protect the health and well-being of individuals; for example, seat belt legislation, laws to ban smoking in public spaces, and ongoing agitation for food labelling. 
 
The research unit is the brainchild of Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Law Nicole Foster and is supported by a six-member advisory committee  that includes: Professor Simon Anderson, Director of the George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre; Justice Winston Anderson, Judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and Chair of the CCJ Academy for Law; Dr. Kenneth Connell, the Faculty of Medical Sciences representative; Dr. Margherita Cinà, Institute Associate at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University; Maisha Hutton, Executive Director of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition; and the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the Cave Hill Campus as an ex officio member. 
 
The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, with which the Faculty of Law has partnered, has contributed US$140,000 to the initiative. 
 
Foster said the unit will build awareness of and advance the use of law as a tool to protect and promote health and support a more health-focused approach to policymaking and legislative action. More specifically, its work will focus on academic scholarship to allow for knowledge generation and awareness building in the areas of law and health; capacity building through education and training to create a cadre of legal professionals who can provide technical support and advocacy on law and health, and technical assistance to governments and civil society actors on law and policy reform and implementation as well as possible strategic litigation. 
 
Then Principal of the Cave Hill Campus Professor the Most Honourable Eudine Barriteau said the establishment of the unit underscores the commitment of the campus to revitalise and protect Caribbean societies. She stated that a multidisciplinary strategy is needed to address the complexities of NCDs, while noting that interdisciplinary research opportunities and collaborations are necessary for scholarship to flourish. She suggested that the unit introduce an annual joint legal and medical conference where scholars from the legal, health and medical sectors meet to present their research and create new public health policy aimed at improving the quality of life and well-being in Caribbean societies. 
 
As part of its capacity-building work, the Law and Health Research Unit has teamed up with the Global Center for Legal Innovation on Food Environments at Georgetown University to offer a series of short courses on various aspects of global health law. The first course, Introduction to Global Health Law, was held from 6th October to 10th November 2021.  A second instalment in the series is scheduled to run from 3rd to 30th March 2022, focusing on NCDs and the Law.  


 

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