Minister of Health Attends 3rd Global Conference on Health and Climate Change held in St. Georges, Grenada
"Climate Change is happening; it's here and is affecting a number of regions.”
The Isle of Spice, locally dubbed as ‘Greenz’, held the third Global Conference on Health and Climate Change hosted by the Hon. Nickolas Steele, Minister of Health, Social Security and International Business, Grenada. At the invitation of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), the TCI delegation led by Hon. Edwin Astwood, Minister of Health, Agriculture, Sports and Human Services attended the conference on 16-17th October, 2018.
During the opening ceremony a number of statements were brought by Director General WHO, Dr. Tedros Chebreyesus, Assistant Director General for Climate and Other Determinants of Health (WHO), Dr. Joy St. John, and Minister of Health, Grenada, Hon. Steele. PAHO Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne opened the third Global Conference on Health and Climate Change noting that health sectors need to ensure that SMART designs are used when building new health facilities.
A cross section of high level delegates and Ministers were in attendance including 14 Ministers of Small Island Development States (SIDS) and over 100 persons representing member states. Among the Ministers present were distinguished delegates from WHO regions, the Maldives, Seychelles, as well as the CARICOM Secretariat, CARPHA, WORLD BANK, WHO, other UN Partners, USA Delegates and technical experts on advancing global action on climate change and health.
The SIDS Initiative has a vision that by 2030, all health systems in SIDS will be resilient to climate variability and change. As such, the conference, to allow for greater participation, took an innovative geographical dispersed approach by conducting conferences in three regions thus far; Fiji, St. Louis, Mauritius and Grenada. The outputs of the three conferences will be the base for a Global Action Plan to be presented to the World Health Assembly in 2019.
There were two main sessions, one of which consisted of four (4) components; EMPOWERMENT, EVIDENCE, IMPLEMENTATION and RESOURCES. Hon. Astwood stated: “Climate change is happening, we only have to look at the occurrences in the Turks & Caicos Islands; the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, impact on fisheries, erosion of coastal areas and increases in vector borne diseases.”
He further stated that; "While countries such as the Turks & Caicos Islands contribute the least to climate change, they will be and are being impacted the most. The countries of the Caribbean should focus more on adaptation and response strategies, rather than spending huge amounts of money on reducing our carbon footprint, which is almost insignificant on the global scale. The impact of climate change on health has been identified as a priority area to be addressed by Ministries of Health and that the Ministry of Health is represented on the national climate change committee and is looking at implementing a number of strategies to address climate change.”
During the panel discussion, moderated by former CNN Anchor, Ms. Ralitsa Vassileve, Hon. Astwood voiced to the audience, particularly to the Caribbean Ministers and technocrats, that the region receives around 57 million visitors a year, and that they are a captive audience for our message on climate change. “Let us show them that the beach that was there last year is not there anymore, let them take our message back to the USA, to Europe, and to China, let them advocate for us to their politicians to take climate change seriously, and increase efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.”
Commendation was also given to PAHO on their efforts to open the SMART Hospitals first in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and presently launched in Grenada.
Attendees commended the conference. Dr. Joy St. John stated, "In my attendance of numerous meetings and conferences, I have never heard thoughts and ideas being discussed and formulated like what has taken place at this conference." Hon. Molwyn Joseph, Minister of Health, Wellness, & Environment, Antigua and Barbuda, stated "In my 30 plus years in Politics, this was the most dynamic group of Health Ministers that I have ever had the pleasure to work with."
The Minister of Health was accompanied by Director of Human Services, Dr. Nadia Astwood and Executive Administrator, Mrs. Darlene Clerveaux-Forbes of the Ministry of Health, Agriculture Sports and Human Services, and Director of the Office of the Premier, Mr. Ronlee James.