Climate Change a Threat to Public Health

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Dr. Joy St. John, Chief Medical Officer. (FP)??

The effects of climate change do not only have an impact on our environment, they also affect our health and wellness.

This was the message shared at the unveiling ceremony of the logo for the Global Environmental Fund (GEF) Project – Piloting Climate Change Adaptation to Protect Human Health, held at the Bay Street Esplanade today.

During her address, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Joy St. John, observed that "climate change is a real threat, and is contributing to mortality, especially for people living in poverty and lacking access to essential health care.?? A two degree Celsius rise in temperature will result in insecurity for millions of people…no country is immune from the health effects of climate change," she cautioned.

The CMO noted that the GEF Project was, first and foremost, an adaption exercise and acknowledged that "a fundamental requisite for adaptation to climate change is the improvement in monitoring and surveillance of diseases and mortality in sensitive regions.?? In developing countries, disease surveillance systems are often inconsistent and poorly managed. The challenge is to incorporate a strong public health infrastructure…," she said, adding that accurate and reliable meteorological and climatic forecasts also played a crucial role.????

Dr. St. John congratulated the logo designer, Stacey Atherley, for assisting the Ministry in bringing the serious issue into focus, and explained that the negative effects on public health could not be overstated.

She highlighted the fact that events such as floods, heat waves and other disasters had a direct impact on the availability of clean water and resulted in crop shortages.

"In the region of the Americas, the main areas of concern for us, relative to climate change, are…increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme climate events; changes in food and water supply, which in turn affect nutritional security; and modification in the distribution of vector borne diseases and sea level rise," the CMO said. ??She added that there was a need for the link between climate change and health to be better appreciated and properly managed.

nekaelia.hutchinson@barbados.gov.bb

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