Non-Aligned Movement has emphasized the need to develop comprehensive adaption measure to address climate-related impacts on health as well as environment. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), most of its Member States also being a part of the NAM, is committed to addressing these issues and have launched many significant initiatives in this regard.

On December 1, the European-Caribbean Forum (EU/CARIFORUM) Climate Change and Health Project in the Caribbean was launched. The project is aimed at reducing mortality and morbidity from health consequences of climate change and promoting linkages to the environmental determinants of health in the CARICOM Member States.

CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque, speaking at the virtual launch of the five-year-project remarked: “Climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic as single occurrences are devastating for vulnerable countries such as, Small Island and Low-lying Coastal Developing States (SIDS) like the CARICOM Member States. When combined, the consequences and toll on the lives and livelihood of our peoples are enormous. To combat these challenges, our Region has come together using the institutions that we have established and which will be involved in the implementation of this project”.

The institutions include the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), the University of the West Indies (UWI), and the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA). The St. George’s University (SGU) will also participate, the CARICOM Secretary-General said.

Under the project, the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency will design, develop and pilot an integrated surveillance system inclusive of a model, for expansion and sustainability of the system in three CARIFORUM countries with a preliminary focus on zoonotic, vector borne disease, foodborne and water borne disease, respiratory disease and heat-related illness;

The Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) will advance the development of health and climate change concept notes for funding, and LaRocque reminded the ceremony that the CCCCC is one of two regional institutions accredited to the Green Climate Fund.

The Barbados-based Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology will develop an early warning system for Sahara Dust in one CARIFORUM country, building on its existing work in spearheading early warning systems for drought in key economic sectors.

The UWI will foster an interdisciplinary cadre of fifteen climate change fellows from across the Region trained in Climate Change, One Health and Leadership while CARICOM Secretariat will ensure that the outputs of the project will be submitted to the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) (Health), and Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) (Environment), for endorsement of the major outputs. The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), which played the leading role in negotiating for the funds for the project, is the Implementing Agency with overall responsibility for coordinating the work.

The support of the European Union (EU) includes the allocation of approximately €60 million under the Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme (CRIP), to Climate Change, Disaster Management and the Management of Natural Resources. As part of the project, provision has also been made for special assistance of 1.3 million Euro to be given directly to Haiti in its effort to address the COVID-19 pandemic. This aspect will also be managed by PAHO.

The project is in accordance with the Caribbean Cooperation in Health Phase IV (CCH IV) Framework. The CCH IV seeks to advance regional cooperation in health through the provision of regional public goods (RPGS) that enable, complement and add value to the efforts of Member States towards sustainable health development. The implementation of the project will also assist in realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG3 “Good Health and Well-being” that aims to ensure ‘healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’.

By Dr. Ankit Srivastava

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