Sir Kenneth Livingstone Standard of Barbados (1920-2004) Professor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), pioneered teaching and training in public health in the Caribbean. He started academic programs at UWI Mona in public health for physicians and in community health for non-physicians. He also introduced community medicine in the undergraduate curriculum and developed the Community Health Aides program for the Ministry of Health, Jamaica.
He was among the first batch of 33 medical students at the University College of the West Indies (UCWI) in Mona, Jamaica. After graduation, he worked at the University College Hospital. Standard attended the Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh and attained his master’s degree in public health in 1959.
In 1962, he obtained a doctorate in medicine from the University of London for research on child nutrition.
Professor Standard placed high importance on community health in Barbados. In 1961 he joined the Department of Social and Preventative Medicine at UWI Mona, Jamaica. In 1966 he was appointed head of the Department and in 1968 was elevated to professor.
In 1972 he initiated a health aides’ programs in Jamaica. In this project, volunteer doctors and nurses conducted short courses to train residents in health care. He also set up a clinic at Mona run by UWI medical students to assist neighboring communities. This gained the attention of Cornell University.
During his active career, Professor Standard made significantly regional and global contributions as a consultant to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). He chaired the WHO Task Force on Research in Health Education in Family Health and was a long-serving member of the WHO Expert Advisory Panel on Public Health Administration. His manual for community health workers is considered the “bible” of social and preventative medicine.
He was the founding president of the Caribbean Public Health Association (CARPHA) and his work greatly influenced public health in Caribbean countries by exploring alternatives in the delivery of health care within the constraints of limited resources by using community health aides (auxiliaries) as members of the health team.
The Jamaican government awarded him the Commander of the Order of Distinction in 1976. He received the Order of Knight Bachelor from Her Majesty the Queen in 1982 in recognition of his invaluable work in public health. On 2 December 2002, during the 100th Anniversary of the Pan American Health Organization, Dr. Kenneth Standard received among other 11 selected individual the highest distinction of “Public Health Hero of the Americas” for his unvaluable contributions in medicine, community involvement, child nutrition and research in the America.
Professor Sir Kenneth Livingstone Standard died on 2 August 2004; he was 84.
Links of interest:
Article: My journey in public health in the Caribbean. Rev Panam Salud Publica/Pan Am J Public Health 12(4), 2002
Video: Sir Kenneth Livingstone Standard (Produced by NIHERST Trinidad and Tobago, 2012).
Tribute to Sir Kenneth Standard, Professor Emeritus. University of West Indies. 2004.