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Caribbean ministers meet to tackle effects of climate change

PICTURED: Dr Carissa F. Etienne

MINISTERS FROM across the Caribbean region met yesterday (Oct 16) in St George’s, Grenada to ensure that those living in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), who are on the front line of increasing health impacts of climate change, are prepared and protected.

The III Global Conference on Health and Climate: Special Focus on Small Island Developing States, convened jointly by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and hosted by the Government of Grenada, takes place on 16 and 17 October.

The conference convenes Ministers of Health, Ministers of Environment, representatives from other UN agencies and key stakeholders from Caribbean SIDS to develop an Action Plan on Health and Climate Change for the Caribbean.

“We saw last year the devastating effects of hurricanes Irma, Maria and Harvey, and many other tropical storms that hit the Caribbean,” said Dr. Carissa Etienne, PAHO Director.

“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,” added Dr. Etienne. “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.”

During the conference, which is attended by 14 Caribbean Ministers of Health and Ministers of the Environment, and hosted by the Government of Grenada, four overarching issues will be discussed:

- 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;
- Developing 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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