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Oct 11, 2018

Regional Leaders to Meet to Talk Climate Change and Health

Joy St. John

On Tuesday we reported on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change one point five Report.  It spelled out a serious warning for the Caribbean and the rest of the world.  Today, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center, known as the five C’s, issued its own release to echo the warning that Caribbean leaders need to quickly cut carbon emissions by 2030.  The report highlighted that for Small Island Developing States, the difference between warming at one point five and two degrees Celsius is critical. It causes increased water stress, more intense rainfall during tropical cyclones and increased exposure to irreversible sea level rise. The release says, “While some coral reefs would be able to adapt at one point five degrees Celsius, at two degrees, their chances of survival are next-to-none; irrecoverably damaging the fisheries and livelihoods that depend on them.” Next week Ministers of Health and Environment as well as other partner agencies will be convening in Grenada for the third Global Conference on Health and Climate Change to develop a plan of action on health and climate change for the Caribbean. When we caught up recently with World Health Organisation’s Joy Saint John of Barbados at the Global Climate Action Summit, she shared that SIDS has been compiling data to strengthen the way climate change related illnesses are tackled.

 

Dr. Joy St. John, Asst. Dir. Gen. for Climate and Other Determinants of Health, WHO

“We have started doing country profiles. There have been country profiles done in other regions, but we have started doing country profiles in the Caribbean. The actual status of not only the effects, but what the region has in place to address those things is being laid out. So, there is evidence being built globally and then specifically in the Caribbean there is evidence being developed. The vector control issues and the fact that the Aedes aegypti is almost a member of the family in the Caribbean. They breed in domestic situations very easily and then there are the vectors of the diseases that wreaked havoc; dengue, chikungunya, zika. So, we have already the vector control issues and when you speak of diseases related to climate, you also have to think of the effects on the body, the sun – the exposure to UV in terms of skin cancers. So, those things are there. Those things are known and luckily there are the clinical changes in how to prevent and treat illnesses.”

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