CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Thursday November 18, 2015 – Caribbean environmental experts are meeting this week to seek solutions for climate change and public health challenges in the region.
The three-day conference, which began in St. Lucia yesterday, is hosted by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) which said it has recognized the critical need for the region be more climate change resilient due to the frequency of more severe storms and hurricanes, increases in mosquito-borne diseases, rises in sea levels, prolonged periods of drought, and salt water intrusion of coastal groundwater sources–which all pose a significant threat to human health.
CARPHA Executive Director Dr. James Hospedales said that because climate change threatens traditional public health infrastructure, the conference will focus on environmental health services.
“We will discuss efforts to respond to severe weather events and disease outbreaks, drinking water safety, and vector control measures. At the same time measures like alternative transport such as biking and walking and rapid mass transport can improve population health, mitigate climate change through reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy security, and reduce the import bill for oil.”
The event will bring together government representatives, and regional and international organizations to address issues of public health, environment and socio-economic wellbeing.
The meeting will serve as a platform for information-sharing, and a “think tank” for developing innovative, Caribbean-specific solutions to environmental health and sustainable development challenges.
Agenda items include discussions on preparations for the Zika virus and recent experiences with Chikungunya, food and water security, achievements of the Caribbean Cooperation for Health III, and a Caribbean Environmental Health Officers and Partners Planning Session.