Caribbean Ministers approve action plan on climate-resilient health systems
16 January 2019 | Mitigation
The last in a series of events comprising the World Health Organization (WHO) Third Global Conference on Climate and Health with a special focus on small island developing States (SIDS) brought together ministers of health and environment, partner agencies and stakeholders from Caribbean SIDS to discuss and identify actions and indicators for an Action Plan on Health and Climate Change to be implemented in the Caribbean.
The meeting, which convened in Saint George’s, Grenada, from 16-17 October 2018, was organized by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the WHO.
Addressing the meeting and emphasizing the impacts of climate change on health, PAHO Director Carissa Etienne highlighted the Caribbean’s vulnerability to hurricanes, floods, droughts and heatwaves, and regional challenges associated with water and food security and safety, undernutrition, massive fisheries and marine biodiversity loss, and vector-borne diseases and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Joy St. John, WHO, said that more extreme weather events are causing more deaths, having devastating impacts on livelihoods and economies and threatening to submerge some islands.
More extreme weather events in the Caribbean are causing more deaths, having devastating impacts on livelihoods and economies.
Conference participants discussed the need to: support Caribbean health leaders to ensure their priorities and needs are addressed; strengthen national technical capacities to understand the impacts of climate change on health in SIDS and to anticipate and prepare for those risks; and develop policies and implementing actions required to build climate-resilient health systems. They also called for ensuring that early warning surveillance systems are implemented, and facilitating access to climate and health financing mechanisms.
The Third Global Conference on Climate and Health is part of the WHO Initiative on Climate Change and Health in SIDS, which was launched during the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UNFCCC in November 2017, by WHO in collaboration with the UNFCCC Secretariat and the COP 23 Fijian Presidency. The Initiative aims to ensure that, by 2030, all health systems in SIDS are resilient to climate variability and change, and to provide national health authorities in SIDS with the political, technical and financial support to better understand and address the impacts of climate change on health, and build climate-resilient health systems.
WHO convened the Conference using an innovative, geographically dispersed approach. Similar meetings were held in March 2018 in Fiji, for the Western Pacific Region, and in Mauritius for the African and South-East Asian Regions. The outputs of and regional plans developed during the three parts of the Conference will provide the foundation for a Global Action Plan for climate and health in SIDS to be presented to the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.