Local authorities are promising increased efforts to make the health system more resilient to the impacts of climate change, while ensuring greater collaboration between relevant ministries, departments and private sector entities.
Minister of Health and Wellness Ian Gooding-Edghill announced on Thursday that plans were on the cards for a comprehensive climate risk assessment of the health sector with a view of putting viable measures in place.
Gooding-Edghill said the development of a Health National Adaptation Plan, which would form part of a wider national adaptation plan, was also being pursued as a primary strategy to help build resilience within the health sector.
The health minister said he was satisfied there have been some “remarkable accomplishments” in the sector over the past several years. However, pointing to the effects that extreme weather conditions and power outages could have on the health system, Gooding-Edghill gave the assurance that the necessary adaptation plans and mitigating strategies were being robustly developed.
“The development of the Health National Adaptation Plan as a critical chapter in the wider national adaptation plan is currently the primary strategy being pursued in efforts to augment the building of resilience in the health sector,” he said.
“Consequently, there are plans to conduct a comprehensive climate risk vulnerability assessment across the entire health sector, which further demonstrates this ministry’s commitment to building climate resilience in the interest of preserving public health,” he said.
Gooding-Edghill was addressing the opening of a national climate change and health symposium on Thursday. The half-day event was held under the theme Building One-Health Partnerships for Adaptation to Climate Change.
Acknowledging that it will require a lot of work to make the health system more resilient to the shocks associated with climatic events, Gooding-Edghill said the path to achieving this should be paved with “cooperation and partnerships between sectors including agriculture, environment, water resources, finance, and others”.
“The one-health principle plays an important role in the effort to building resilience to climate change in the health sector. Fundamentally, the Ministry of Health and Wellness is obligated to chart the national climate change agenda with a goal that focuses on protecting and preserving human life
“The one-health principle therefore provides a critical framework upon which critical sectors both within government and external non-governmental organisations can partner to fulfill the objective of maintaining the highest possible health standards for present and future generations,” he said.
The symposium, which was held at the Ministry of Health’s Culloden Road, St Michael location, attracted participants from the Barbados Water Authority (BWA), the Coastal Zone Management Unit, the Ministry of Environment and National Beautification and the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
According to Environmental Health Specialist in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Steve Daniel, it forms part of the European Union funded five-year climate change and health leadership fellowship project, which is aimed at building and strengthening climate resilient health systems and human capacity in the Caribbean.
Daniel, who is the Barbados fellow, said the project, which started in June last year with Barbados, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Haiti, Suriname and the Bahamas, is being implemented by the Pan American Health Organisation in association with several partners across 16 countries. (MM)