Dr Robin A Roberts, a consultant urologist, medical educator and one of the most distinguished medical practitioners in The Bahamas and the region, has retired as director of the UWI School of Clinical Medicine & Research Bahamas (SCMR), which offers programmes for undergraduate and postgraduate medical training and research. He was appointed as Senior Lecturer and the first Bahamian Director of SCMR in 2010 and remained in that distinguished and productive post until his retirement in August of this year. He has passed the SCMR leadership baton to Dr Corrine Sin Quee, a pediatric hematologist/oncologist, who has made her own distinguished mark in that field of medical practice.
Widely noted as a distinguished scholar and medical practitioner, Dr Roberts proudly states that he is a graduate of the famed Government High School, where he received his secondary education. Since then, he has earned numerous professional degrees, diplomas and certifications. His tertiary studies were launched when he was awarded a Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship in 1971 to pursue an honours degree in Biochemistry at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada from which institution he graduated with First-Class Honours and the University Medal.
Subsequently, Dr Roberts earned his medical degree from the University of the West Indies, winning university medals in Physiology, Experimental Physiological Science and Anatomy and in Social and Preventive Medicine. To further his postgraduate pursuits, he returned to Dalhousie in 1982 and attained his Fellowship in Urological Surgery from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. He completed a Fellowship in Clinical Renal Transplantation as the Victoria General Hospital’s first Transplant Fellow (1986/1987).
Returning home to The Bahamas in 1987, he was appointed the first Urologist in the government health services system at the 450-bed Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH). To his legendary credit, he established urology as a distinct and credible service in the Bahamas, thereby advancing state-of-the-art urological care in The Bahamas to the entire population. For the first ten years of this service, prior to acquiring an assistant in 1997, Dr. Roberts provided urological treatment for every patient requiring such care at the PMH. Since 1987 and up to his 2017 retirement from the hospital service, he had performed over 20,000 surgical procedures on Bahamians of which over 80% were
done in the public services at the PMH and the Rand Memorial Hospital in Freeport.
In 1996, adding to his laurels, Robin Roberts performed the first kidney transplant in the Bahamas and introduced the multi-organ donor transplant service with the University of Miami Health Systems’ – Miami Transplant Institute. This allowed for Bahamians to have liver and heart transplants in Miami.
It is said that Dr Robert’s administrative and managerial skills permeate every fibre of the health care services in The Bahamas. He once served as Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the Princess Margaret Hospital and first Director of Continuing Medical Education. Under his leadership, PMH became a teaching hospital in 1997, with a clinical training programme under the auspices of the University of the West Indies Faculty of Medical Sciences, which enrolled undergraduate students in their final two years of medical school. Also established were seven postgraduate residency programmes.
As head of the continuing education initiative and with the partnership of College of The Bahamas and the University of Western Connecticut, the Master of Health Administration Degree was launched in the Bahamas. So were the Surgical Technology Programme and the Certificate of Health in collaboration with the College of The Bahamas Office of Continuing Professional Development Extramural and the
Academy of Medical Sciences. Also launched were the Advanced Life and Trauma Support programmes in local hospitals.
In July 2017, Dr. Roberts was appointed as the first Chairman of the National Health Insurance Authority Board, entrusted with the responsibility of establishing and implementing a National Health Insurance programme for The Bahamas. In 2021, he was appointed Deputy Chairman. Some 130,000 Bahamians are enrolled in the National Health Insurance Primary care program to date, in pursuit of Universal Health Coverage.
He has served as President of the following bodies: Medical Association of The Bahamas; the Commonwealth of The Bahamas Research Academy of Medical Sciences and of the Bahamas Family Planning Association. He was also Co-Vice Chair of the National Task Force on Gender Based Violence in 2015 and of the National Coalition for Health Care Reform in 2006. In the English-Speaking Caribbean, he served as a Founding member and President of The Caribbean Urological Association, and Vice-President of the Caribbean Association of Nephrologist and Urologist.
For many years, Dr Roberts has been actively involved in research with a primary research focus on prostate cancer in partnership with several international research consortia and funding by the NIH. He has established an annual screening clinic with a cohort of over 5000 patients, followed over the past 15 years. Dr Roberts is credited with numerous publications in peer reviewed journals and regional and international presentations as well as a book on “Sparking the Debate on National Health Insurance” after completing an MBA at the University of Miami in 2004.
Dr Roberts counts among his numerous awards—Recipient of Jones Communication’s “Bahamian Legend” and the Distinguished Career Award of the Caribbean Urological Association. He was also conferred a Fellowship from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow in June 2018. He was awarded the Proactive Physician of the Year by the renowned international health magazine, Prevention for his leadership role in the “Here’s to Your Health Bahamas”, health promotion programme that enrolled some 7000 participants spanning the entire Commonwealth of the Bahamas in 1993.