Jamaica Bats for Global Strategy on Health, Climate and Environmental Change

Geneva, Switzerland: Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton, on behalf of the Caribbean region, has urged the World Health Organization, WHO, to give priority to the development of initiatives to address the health effects of climate change in Small-Island Developing States and vulnerable settings in both areas of preparedness and response. The Minister was addressing a session on health, environment and climate change at the 142nd Meeting of the WHO Executive Board now underway in Geneva, Switzerland this morning.

Dr. Tufton referenced the fact that the Americas have suffered from extreme weather conditions over the last year with two Category 5 Hurricanes that devastated several islands across the Caribbean Region.

“We request that programmes for addressing education and preparedness of the health sector and the general population in mitigating the impact of disasters on vulnerable groups in the aftermath of disasters be included in the overall global strategy.”

The Minster pointed to the 95% seriously damaged or destroyed structures in Barbuda and the 1,700 residents who were completely evacuated. The estimated cost of rebuilding the country is in excess of US$300 million. Dominica suffered damage to approximately 95% of its physical structures. An estimated 91% of buildings in St. Maarten were damaged and there was widespread damage in Cuba with more than 210,000 homes damaged. Another cause for concern is that over the last 20 years, Jamaica has lost an average of 2-3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per year due to the impact of natural disasters.

Additionally, the Minister has endorsed the WHO secretariat report on public health preparedness and response and the development of the Draft five-year Global Strategic Plan.

According to Dr. Tufton, “CARICOM member states support the Draft Global 5 year Strategic Plan to improve public health and response to public health emergencies of national and international concern. We welcome the framework for the development of the International Health Regulations outlined in the 5-year plan with its three strategic pillars and outlined objectives. We anticipate that the implementation of this plan will strengthen our capacity to detect, contain and report on public health emergencies.”

Dr. Tufton endorsed the use of the available monitoring and evaluation instruments and requested that CARICOM member states be included to participate as evaluators, in Joint External Evaluations as this provides us with insightful information to improve our core capacities.

He also requested that the existing monitoring tool for the assessment of the core capacities be maintained in addition to any other Monitoring Evaluation Framework developed for overall evaluation of the Global Strategic Plan.