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It is with profound regret that the University learned this morning of the passing of Sir Kenneth Standard, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Community Health on The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus

When the University College of the West Indies opened its doors in 1948, with a Faculty of Medicine, the decision had been made that it would accommodate 32 students. At the last minute, it was agreed that there was space for one more, and a young headmaster in Barbados, one Kenneth Standard, received an urgent telegram to find himself to Mona, as he would be the 33rd of the now famous “first 33 students”. The Caribbean, at this point in time, needs to give thanks that this extra space was available.

No one in the Caribbean region has had a greater commitment to Community Health than Ken Standard. Throughout his days as one of the more mature students in the first group, all around him were always conscious of the importance which he placed on community health. He always felt that the most important people in the medical field were the Medical Officers of Health, who had responsibility for Primary Health Care throughout the country, and after graduation, he returned to Barbados to work in St. Philip in this capacity. He then went to the University of London, and became the first of the group of 33 to obtain the degree of Doctor of Medicine, with a thesis on the importance of Nutrition in the children of rural St. Elizabeth in Jamaica.

He was also one of the first 5 UWI graduates to become a Milbank Fellow, a scholarship awarded by a wealthy American who had established the Milbank Foundation. After meeting with a former Milbank Scholar who was doing ground-breaking work in the slums of New York, he returned to UWI fired up to start a similar project in August Town, where he started the Health Aides programme, with a group of interested citizens who received a short training course conducted by volunteer doctors and nurses on the Mona Campus. One of these, incidentally, is UWI’s new Chancellor, Sir George Alleyne who along with Ken Standard and Owen Minott, did yeoman service in that area. He prepared The Community Health Aide Book, which is still regarded as the Bible for Social and Preventive Medicine.

Ken Standard then established a clinic on the Mona Campus, which serviced the citizens of the August Town and Bedward communities. This pilot project spread across Jamaica, and was such a success that Cornell University started sending groups of students down annually to watch and learn from the work done in these rural clinics manned by young UWI medical graduates.

He has also been widely recognised for his pioneering work with numerous awards. Here at the UWI, he was recognised through Chancellor Hall’s Super Lion Award; the Guild of Graduate’s Pelican Award and a Special Award given by the Faculty of Medical Sciences. The Faculty has also instituted the Sir Kenneth Standard Distinguished Lecture as part of its annual Medical Research Conference. He was also honoured by The University during 2003 Commemoration Celebrations which recognise the Founding Fathers and those who have contributed greatly to the development of the institution.

Externally, he was made a Commander of the Order of Distinction by the Government of Jamaica; his work was recognised by the Medical Association of Jamaica, the Norman Manley Washington Foundation, the Caribbean Public Health Association, and the Caribbean Commonwealth Medical Research Council. Internationally, his worth was recognised by the World Health Organisation, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and in 1982, on the recommendation of the Government of Barbados, Her Majesty the Queen conferred on him the Order of Knight Bachelor. In celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2002, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) named Sir Kenneth Standard one of eleven “Public Health Heroes of the Americas” in recognition of his pioneering work in Public Health.

A quiet man, deeply religious, and a former lay preacher in the Methodist church in his native Barbados, he was passionately committed to preventive medicine, fiercely protective of the importance of community health care, and would challenge and defend what he regarded as the priority in medicine with any of his superiors who needed to be persuaded of the need for these programmes.

In all of this, he had the strong and loving support of his wife, the former Evelyn Francis. They had known each other in Barbados, where she was a nurse. Later, she travelled to the UK and received further training, returning to Mona as one of the first Sisters in the new University Hospital. They would have celebrated their fiftieth anniversary this year. Their daughter, Dr. Aileen Standard-Goldson, is a Medical Officer in the University Health Centre at Mona

The University recognizes Professor Emeritus Sir Kenneth Standard as one of the icons in the field of Medicine in the Caribbean. The institution will always be grateful for the tremendous contribution that he has made to community medicine throughout the region. He is an alumnus that makes us proud, and as we celebrate this magnificent life, we thank his family for sharing him with us for over a half a century. His name will rank high in the annals of the University of the West Indies.

Rex Nettleford
Vice Chancellor

August 3, 2004

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