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C'bean health ministers discussing new system in face of climate change

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

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ST GEORGE 'S, Grenada (CMC) — Caribbean health ministers are expected to approve a plan on health system reliance in the face of climate change at a two day meeting which ends here on Wednesday.

“What we are seeing with respect to climate change and health is that how we define ourselves as a Caribbean people is at stake,” said Health and Social Security Minister, Nickolas Steele.

“Sun, sea and sand is something we have been proud of but it is also going to be our downfall. We need to make sure that we are ready and that we are prepared and smart,” he added.

The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) said the “Third Global Conference on Health and Climate Change: Special Focus on Small Island Developing States,” has brought together health and environment ministers from across the Caribbean, as well as representatives from other United Nations agencies and key stakeholders from Caribbean small island developing states (SIDS).

The meeting is being organised jointly by PAHO, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and hosted by the Grenada government.

PAHO Director, Dr Carissa Etienne, said that health is being impacted by climate change in many ways, and although SIDS have made a small contribution to global emissions of greenhouse gases, they are at the forefront of climate change impacts.

“We saw last year the devastating effect of hurricanes Irma, Maria and Harvey, and many other tropical storms that hit the Caribbean. But we also face other challenges, such as floods; droughts; heatwaves; water and food security and safety; undernutrition; massive fisheries and marine biodiversity loss; vector-borne diseases; and non-communicable diseases.”

“I don't need to convince anyone in this room that the present situation is critical. Health is being impacted by climate change in many ways, and although SIDS have made a small contribution to global emissions of Greenhouse Gases, our islands are at the forefront of climate change impacts,” she added.

PAHO said during the meeting, four overarching issues will be discussed, including supporting Caribbean health leadership to have their priorities and needs heard; strengthen national technical capacities to understand the impacts of climate change on health in SIDS and to anticipate and prepare for those risks.

The meeting will also seek to develop the policies and implementing actions required to build climate-resilient health systems and facilitating access to climate and health financing mechanisms.

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