Physicians' symposium explores hypertension, epilepsy

Physicians' symposium explores hypertension, epilepsy

Sunday, September 08, 2019

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Medical conditions hypertension and epilepsy were placed under the microscope at the Association of Consultant Physicians of Jamaica's 17th Annual Symposium, held under the theme 'Hypertension and Epilepsy: the Highs and Lows' last Sunday, September 1, at Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in St Andrew.

Each year, the symposium seeks to highlight issues and concerns that are crucial to the health and well-being of the Jamaican people.

Guest speaker and presenter Professor Helen Cross, a paediatric neurologist and epileptologist, spoke on 'Precision Medicine: new ways forward in childhood onset epilepsy'.

Epilepsy surgery, MRI findings in epilepsy and cannabinoids in the treatment of epilepsy, and other conditions, were among the topics covered. Epilepsy is one of the most prevalent neurological disorders in the world with a significant number of Jamaicans suffering from the condition. The illness is still largely discriminated against due to public ignorance, even with a reported eight to 10 per cent of Jamaicans affected. The condition is treatable, manageable, and controllable, according to Professor Cross.

In her presentation she looked at the proposition of precision medicine — a medical model that proposes the customisation of health care, with treatments, practices, and products tailored to the individual patient. Technological advances have paved the way for accelerated genomic discovery and the advent of precision medicine. Epilepsy, according to Professor Cross, is well suited to serve as a model for development and deployment of targeted therapies in precision medicine.

Precision medicine depends on the identification of mutations that contribute to disease in individual patients.

In addition to the symposium, President of the ACPJ, Professor Dr Michael Boyne, hosted the President's Reception and Awards Banquet, on Saturday, August 31, where Professor Marshall Tulloch-Reid and Dr Naydene A Williams were singled out for honour.

Professor Tulloch-Reid is a professor of epidemiology and endocrinology and director of the Epidemiology Research Unit of the CAIHR. He is also co-director of the Caribbean branch of the US Cochrane Centre. His research interests include the identification of risk factors for chronic diseases throughout the life course and improving approaches for the prevention and treatment of these disorders.

Dr Naydene A Williams is a consultant physician and gastroenterologist and also an associate lecturer in the Faculty of Medical Sciences at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona. She is also the director of Health Services, Planning and Integration in the Ministry of Health.

The event was held in partnership with the International League Against Epilepsy.

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