[Paho Press Release] The University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), are the first of five partners to sign contribution agreements with the Pan American Health Organization’s Subregional office, to enhance coordination and increase the climate resilience of health systems in the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) community to better prepare and respond to climate threats. The initiative is funded by the European Union.
The University of the West Indies will focus on creating an interdisciplinary cadre of 16 climate change fellows from across the region, trained in Climate Change, One Health and Leadership. It is expected that the establishment of this network will facilitate collaboration and support of local leadership initiatives spearheaded by the climate fellows under the programme. UWI will also assist PAHO in tracking the Caribbean public perceptions on climate and health over the next five years and increase public awareness and visibility. According to Chris Oura, a professor at the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the UWI-St Augustine and Chair of the Technical Working Group – Climate Change and One Health Leadership, “The UWI is really happy to partner with PAHO on this timely and important EU-funded project. Through our fellowship program, which we hope to kick-off in the first half of 2021, we plan to develop a cadre of leaders in Climate Change and Health from across the 16 participating countries”.
Meanwhile, the Belize-based CCCCC, which coordinates the Caribbean region’s response to climate change and provides climate change-related policy advice and guidelines, will support countries in developing health adaptation funding proposals and create opportunities for heightened awareness in the region on the links between climate change and health using various communication channels. “Since in the ultimate analysis, climate change impacts the various dimensions of human health, we view this project as another important avenue to fulfil our mandate to assist Caribbean countries in building resilience to the impacts of climate change by empowering our people to act on climate change,” explained Project Development Specialist, at the CCCCC, Vincent Peter.
The EU/CARIFORUM Strengthening Climate Resilient Health Systems Project assists countries in countering the health impacts of climate change and advocate for their prioritisation at the national level. To do this, representatives from the health sector in each country will support the preparation of a health chapter in the National Adaptation Plans (H-NAP) through engagement with other national partners and following a systematic process based upon PAHO/WHO-UNFCCC guidance. This will ensure that the Caribbean sub-region is better prepared for changes in health outcomes influenced by climate change, assess the current effectiveness of current programmes to manage the health risks of climate variability/change; and make projections of health burdens related to future climate scenarios.
One of the upcoming milestones for the project will be the hosting of a virtual workshop, scheduled for December 2nd, for national focal points in climate change and health, environmental health, as well as National Designated Authorities from beneficiary countries, and universities. The session will focus on reaching an understanding of the current sub-regional state of H-NAP development, best practices and mechanisms to facilitate this process, and agree to set quality control criteria. Over the course of the next four years numerous CARIFORUM countries will receive support through this EU/CARIFORUM grant to develop the H-NAP and subsequent proposals for health adaptation projects.
In the coming months, the first communication products will be developed, as well as a novel survey to better understand Caribbean knowledge and perceptions around climate change and health.
The project includes five collaborating partners and three United Nation agencies: CARICOM, the Caribbean Public Health Agency, the CCCCC, the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology & Hydrology, the UWI, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the United Nations Development Programme.