A local consultant’s infrastructure work in Saint Lucia has led to a Morehouse School of Medicine public health collaboration with one of the Caribbean nation’s top hospitals. 

Daraka Satcher, chief operating officer of the Pendleton Consulting Group LLC, began traveling to Saint Lucia to open doors for a large Atlanta-based construction firm looking to build roads and ports there. 

But he noticed another opportunity. Health officials were growing concerned about the rise of non-communicable diseases, particularly diabetes, among the island’s 174,000 people.

Mr. Satcher’s father, David, happens to be a former U.S. surgeon general whose work at Morehouse partially focuses on reducing health disparities among minority communities. 

“That made it obviously much easier for me to navigate Morehouse School of Medicine,” Mr. Satcher said. David Satcher leads the Satcher Health Leadership Institute, which focuses on educating public health professionals, and works alongside the school’s Center of Excellence for Health Disparities.

Researchers at the Satcher institute applied for an administrative supplment to an existing National Institutes of Health grant awarded to Morehouse to research ways to reduce disparities among African American families. The $300,000, 12-month supplement was granted in September. 

Saint Lucia, they reasoned, has a similar ethnic makeup and a small population, which would make it easier to observe the impact of new policies and methods relatively quickly. Saint Lucians are twice as likely to die of diabetes than African Americans, according to World Health Organization statistics cited in the grant proposal. 

“We want to determine multidimensional, culturally-centered prevention and intervention strategy to help reduce health disparities in Saint Lucia that may serve as a model framework for replication in the U.S.,” Kisha Holden, deputy director for the Satcher institute, told Global Atlanta

The Institute will work with Tapion Hospital, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education to implement the initiative.

Daraka Satcher, who formerly worked for the U.S. Department of Commerce, said the project was an interesting blend of his family’s expertise.

“It’s right there in the middle of health care and international affairs,” he said. 

Saint Lucian Prime Minister Kenny Anthony traveled through Atlanta last week en route to delivering the fall commencement address at Fort Valley State University in south Georgia. He was slated to speak on global connectivity between the United States and the rest of the world.

During the visit, there was some discussion with Emory University about sending faculty to help with a new teaching hospital in the country, though that idea is still being explored, Mr. Satcher said.  

Karlyn Harris contributed reporting.

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...