Caribbean College of Surgeons

The idea of a Caribbean College of Surgeons had been an elusive idea for many years, in that surgeons like other specialists recognized the richness that could be gained from the exchange of ideas, experiences and fellowship with colleagues across the Caribbean. They were encouraged by the experiences of other pan-Caribbean bodies such as the Commonwealth Caribbean Medical [now Health] Research Council and smaller groupings of subspecialty organizations and their annual meetings. However, the critical mass of surgeons in both Jamaica and Trinidad had their own well established national organizations, and there was no ground swell from them to tip the tide towards a Caribbean wide organization.

A further stimulus to the idea of the formation of Caribbean Colleges in general was with the introduction of postgraduate training in the University of the West Indies [UWI] in the early 1970’s. The UWI was the first institution set up to link the several island territories of the English-speaking Caribbean; it was opened in 1948, with the faculty of Medicine to train doctors for the Caribbean. There was no thought given to specialty training and by the 1960’s, the region was experiencing a large ‘brain drain’ of medical professionals for specialty training outside of the region. The UWI as well as the medical professionals in the region were hesitant to embark on professional postgraduate training which their traditional ties pointed to the Royal, American and Canadian Colleges as the appropriate province for such training. The absence of such colleges determined that the UWI would in fact undertake that role which it continues to fulfil to this day. By the 1990’s the idea of a Caribbean College of Surgeons was rekindled by the UWI staff and the graduates of the Doctorate in Medicine , DM, university programmes as they did not see the university as a suitable body to host a body of medical specialists. The traditional ties to the United Kingdom, American and Canadian Colleges were deeply rooted. The heads of the surgery departments at UWI at their regular meetings at examination times thought that a catalyst to a meeting of surgeons from around the Caribbean would be to invite the Royal College of Surgeons to hold one of its overseas meetings in the Caribbean in conjunction with the department of Surgery UWI. The invitation was extended to hold such a meeting in Barbados.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England accepted the invitation, and arrangements were made to hold the meeting in Barbados in March 2001. As hoped there was a large response from surgeons from all around the Caribbean. Some preliminary work had begun to try and determine a constitution for a college, spearheaded by some of the UWI DM graduates, and informal arrangements were made to have the Caribbean surgeons meet during the joint RCS/UWI department of Surgery meeting. The informal intention was concretised into action when officials of the RCS independently suggested that the regional surgeons should join together as a college, and pledged support for such a development, including the conduction of skills workshops for trainees and surgeons.

At the meeting it was agreed that The Caribbean College of Surgeons should be formed and a Steering Committee of four persons was asked to develop and deliver the College as an entity. Professor Walrond of Barbados was asked to chair the committee; the other members were Mr. Cecil Cyrus of St. Vincent – the doyen of the ‘small island’ surgeons, Mr Denis DeQuesnay from Jamaica, a graduate of both the DM and a Royal College who had done some preliminary work on a constitution for such a college, and Dr.Terry Ali, a DM graduate and Orthopaedic surgeon in Trinidad. Over the next year, the constitution was discussed and legal arrangements concluded in 2002 for the incorporation of THE CARIBBEAN COLLEGE OF SURGEONS INC as a non-profit company under the Companies Act of Barbados. Work continued on the issues such as choosing a logo and the different categories of membership, and arrangements were made to hold the first formal meeting of the college in Trinidad in June 2003 at the end of the UWI exams.

Meeting at the end of the UWI exams was chosen for the annual meeting, for this was an occasion when many of the surgeons from the UWI campus territories were already gathered together. There was one also the presence of distinguished visitors from outside the region as external examiners.

The College (CCOS) was formally launched at the Kapok Hotel, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad in June 2003 at which the following executive was elected. Prof. E. R. Walrond – President, Prof. V. Naraynsingh, Vice President, Andrew Richardson Secretary and Treasurer – Terry Ali.

Committee Members – Peter Fletcher, A. Mc Donald, R. Jonnalagadda, Cameron Wilkinson, D. Sharma.

Since then, the College has had annual meetings (held on the second weekend in June) in Antigua (2004), Barbados (2005), Jamaica (2006), St. Lucia (2007), Bahamas (2008) and St. Kitts (2009), Guyana (2010), Grenada (2011). Prof Walrond served a President for two terms 2003-2007, followed by Prof Naraynsingh for two terms 2007 -2011. Dr Deen Sharma was installed as President in 2011.

The Presidential Badge of the College was donated by Prof. David Rosin [Honorary Fellow] at the 2007 annual meeting.