The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) have joined the University of the West Indies (UWI ) and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC), as the latest agencies to sign contribution agreements with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the European Union (EU).
The institutions are implementing partners of a five-year € 6,850,000 EU funded project, aimed at strengthening climate resilient Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) health systems. Working closely with stakeholders, CARPHA and CIMH will take the lead on actions related to surveillance and the development of climate-informed health Early Warning Systems (EWS). These systems use integrated climate and health data to produce forecasts that allow the health sector to allocate resources for public health interventions, where they are most needed.
CARPHA and CIMH will also build the capacity of health practitioners and National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in the use and maintenance of implemented systems. Scaling up of health climatic bulletins at the national level is also planned to increase the availability and dissemination of climate information for the health sector.
Principal of the CIMH, DrDavid Farrell emphasized, “The CIMH through its World Meteorological Organization designated Regional Climate Center for the Caribbean is excited to partner on this important regional initiative. We st rongly believe that it will not only enhance the climate resilience of the regional health sector but will have significant spin-off benefits for other sectors and national economies by enhancing the human and environmental health of the region.”
CARPHA, with the support of PAHO and other project partners, will pilot procedures related to air quality, chemical safety and water, sanitation and hygiene, particularly for populations living in vulnerable situations. Dr St John also highlighted plans to initially hold EWS meetings with key stakeholders for three CARIFORUM countries.
CARPHA’s Executive Director, Dr Joy St. John added, “When CARPHA signed last year, we committed because of the shared vision of strengthening health systems in the context of the current pandemic and the ongoing need for improved resilience and effectiveness of the health service response. A successful EWS allows public health officials to predict and manage potential outbreaks. This could save lives and jobs, protect the environment, and support the long-term sustainability of health system infrastructure.”
PAHO will collaborate with CARPHA to assess emerging Caribbean food, water and sanitation safety risks related to climate change and will pilot risk management and safety plans, in two countries. This will include workshops for the detection of food / waterborne pathogens and training on sample collection, as well as the development of national and sub-regional food safety plans and manuals.
Dr Slater said, “We expect that this will translate into support from leaders in sub-regional, regional and global meetings and elevated action on climate change and health. Through our Youth Ambassadors program, the Secretariat will also contribute to a network of leaders to build evidence on Climate Change and Health and build upon the existing work of PAHO, CARICOM and UWI to establish youth-driven action around climate change and health for the Caribbean.”
A key target population of the project is high-level government leaders within the health and other related sectors. Dr Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary General, Human and Social Development noted CARICOM’s commitment to ensuring that climate and health is included and prioritized in regional meetings, social / environmental platforms and working groups.
All project partners will use their networks and platforms to share information about the project to the public and with youth leaders and advocates to promote awareness and climate health action at the sub-regional level. More information is available on the project website .