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It’s Caribbean Public Health Day!

CARPHA

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has declared today July 2nd, Caribbean Public Health Day.

Watch the Caribbean Public Health Day message from the Executive Director, CARPHA, Dr. C. James Hospedales.

The celebration of Caribbean Public Health Day on July 2 coincides with the anniversary of the legal establishment of CARPHA, which makes it an opportune time to highlight the work of the Agency, sensitize Caribbean people about the importance of public health and the contribution it can make to the socio-economic development of the Region.  For this reason, CARPHA has decided to mark July 2nd, with effect from this year, Caribbean Public Health Day.

We encourage you to listen to the Message and also to share it with persons in your networks as we celebrate the inaugural Caribbean Public Health Day!

Caribbean countries led the world to the historic UN High Level meeting in New York in 2011 resulting in a Declaration to prevent and control NCDs.  It is expected that this leadership will again be shown at the Meeting to address the global threat of NCDs from July 10 -11, 2014.

PUBLIC HEALTH DAY MESSAGE OF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CARPHA, DR. C. JAMES HOSPEDALES 

“ADD LIFE TO YOUR LIFE” ON CARIBBEAN PUBLIC HEALTH DAY  
Follow CARPHA at #addLife
Like CARPHA on Facebook
Message: Text

Good day.

As Executive Director of the newest international public health agency of the 21st century – CARPHA – the importance of public health is succinctly summed up in the words of our slogan – Preventing disease, promoting and protecting health.  Indeed, the Caribbean Public Health Agency, CARPHA, is committed to promoting a healthier, more productive Caribbean population in cleaner and greener environments. The work of CARPHA advances the public health of the Region in several ways, including monitoring health and disease spread and responding to emergencies, laboratory services, nutrition and food security, health research, environmental health and pharmaceutical quality.

However, within recent times, the scourge of non-communicable diseases, also known as NCDs, such as obesity, stroke, cancers, heart disease and diabetes, along with risks such as tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol, and poor diet and physical inactivity, has presented a clear and present danger to our health and economies, right here in the Region.

The sobering reality is, that NCDs are now the leading cause of premature deaths, accounting for nearly half the deaths of persons under 70 years, and two out of three deaths overall in the Caribbean.

In addition, this Region has one of the highest rates of obesity in children and adults in the world.

Recent studies throughout the Caribbean show over 25 per cent of adolescents as being overweight or obese.  This is mainly due to poor diets and lack of physical activity, driven by profound changes in the way we live and play, with massive marketing of foods high in sugar, fats and salt; as well as several hours per day spent watching TV and playing video games.

In fact, the vast majority of the people do not get five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, which protect against high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.

Despite the alarming nature of all this evidence, there is also a positive side to NCDs: most of them are caused by modifiable risk factors.  In other words, if we control the risk factors leading to NCDs, we can prevent some 80 per cent of all heart attacks, strokes and Type II diabetes, as well as 40 per cent of cancers.  This will greatly benefit the economy also.

The modifiable risk factors are mostly known to all of us.  They include tobacco use, an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and harmful use of alcohol. Other intermediate risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and obesity.

To address this health scourge and to promote healthy living, CARPHA declares, today, July 2nd, Caribbean Public Health Day.

Please allow me to take the opportunity today, to publicly thank our public health nurses, environmental health officers, dieticians and nutritionists, health educators and other public health professionals who work tirelessly in the communities educating and assisting persons to adopt a healthy lifestyle, so that they can successfully reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases.

On this day, Caribbean Public Health Day, we urge you to Add Life to Your Life and reverse the NCD trend.  Start today, by making at least one lifestyle change.  Add life by:

  • Walking 30 minutes a day; it can halve your risk of heart attack
  • Reduce your salt intake to reduce your risk of hypertension
  • Eat five servings of fruit and vegetables each day to reduce your risk of hypertension, heart disease and cancer
  • Don’t smoke to reduce your risk of cancer and wrinkles and save money
  • Reduce your alcohol consumption 
  • If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, stay on your medications to avoid complications like heart attacks, stroke, and kidney failure

Recognizing that “The Health of the Region is the Wealth of the Region”, CARPHA encourages you to join with us in demonstrating your firm commitment to improving the quality of your own life and that of our families, so we move towards more healthy people in healthy spaces, and reduce the preventable health costs to families, businesses and governments.

I thank you.

Trinidad and Tobago: Who is going to pay the Climate Change piper?

Credit: BID

Workshop on Economics of Climate Change Adaptation
Credit: BID

Investing in the future is always a challenging decision, for example planning for retirement  will often seem to be less urgent  when we have pressing daily financial  issues that have to be addressed  now (unless you are near to retirement age of course). Not tomorrow, not in 10 years, but today. But the truth is that, in order to have a financially stable future, we need to know our risks, assess the potential losses and costs associated with them, and plan accordingly.

Governments face a similar challenge when it comes to thinking about climate change: they need to plan now to be able to manage the risks associated with the climate of today, tomorrow and the future.

In Trinidad and Tobago, being a small island state, you face very clear risks: you have fragile ecosystems, limited land space and a concentration of socio-economic activities within a narrow coastal belt including critical infrastructure (think power generation, ports, oil and gas facilities)   which will certainly be adversely affected by rising sea levels and other climate related impacts. According to different studies, climate change will have a significant impact on the country, both on environmental and socio-economic levels, affecting primarily 4 key areas:  agriculture, health, human settlements (particularly in coastal areas), and water resources.  What do you do about addressing the cost of the impacts of climate change?

To help the Government address this challenging task of financially planning for the risks of adaptation to climate change (sorry but unfortunately there is a cost involved based on current greenhouse gas emissions), the IDB has supported the elaboration of a study on the economics of climate adaptation which aims at providing a tool to help design adaptation strategies to increase a county’s resilience against climate change-related hazards. In Trinidad and Tobago, investing in climate adaptation now will pay off in the future: it is estimated that investments in mangrove restoration and the national building code will have payback period of less than five years and positive benefit-cost ratios – those are smart investments!

Adaptation has to be a priority for Trinidad and Tobago, as well as for the rest of the CARICOM states, and this is why this methodology will be shared across the region in an effort to help Caribbean governments plan for the future: the wise decisions of today can certainly help us secure a climate-resilient future. The piper will have to be paid but it is wise to put aside the resources now and in the right place before the costs are too high.

Credit: Let's Talk Climate Change, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

5Cs to continue a broader mix of regional and national climate change projects

Credit: Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. Not for use without written permission.

Credit: Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. Not for use without written permission.

The Board of Governors of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre concluded its annual meeting (August 22 -24) in Belize yesterday.  Among the key decisions taken, the Centre will continue to pursue a broader mix of regional and national projects and actions, advance efforts to boost its institutional capacity, and expand its collaborative work with the various economic and social sectors, including health, renewable energy and youth.

Regional and National Tracks

Chairman of the Board Dr Leonard Nurse  says the Centre’s primary focus on a combination of regional and national (dual track) climate change activities is consistent with its regional mandate. This mandate is outlined in the Regional Framework and its accompanying Implementation Plan, which was approved by CARICOM Heads of Governments last year. The dual track approach “allows us to enhance the region’s resilience, so that we can minimize the impact of climate change on certain critical sectors, including agriculture, fisheries, tourism and others, that underpin the economic viability of the region”.

The Chairman notes that the Centre is already strategically developing and implementing dual track initiatives that address the priorities outlined in the Regional Framework and accompanying Implementation Plan— among them is the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank-funded Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) and the Caribbean component of the Intra-ACP Global Climate Change Alliance programme, which is supported by the European Union. Under the PPCR initiative, the Centre will be working with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to better understand the linkages between climate change and human health.

The Caribbean Regional Framework

The Caribbean Regional Framework

Institutional Capacity

The Centre has expanded rapidly having developed the capacity to successfully execute a suite of regional climate change programmes worth between US$40 and US$50 million over the last five years. Pilot projects such as the installation of a Reverse Osmosis Plant in Bequia using solar energy (photovoltaic) have improved access to potable water. Elements of this project are being replicated across the region— Petite Martinique, Carriacou (both dependencies of Grenada), Belize, Barbados and The Bahamas. These successes have resulted in increased demand for the Centre’s services.

Executive Director Dr Kenrick Leslie says the Centre was directed by CARICOM Heads to “work with national governments to put together programmes that would help them develop bankable projects that can be funded under the various mechanisms under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Therefore, the Centre is putting maximum effort to ensure CARICOM Member States get their fair share of the financial resources available through the Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Fund and other funds to help them in their adaptation efforts. That is our primary thrust— to meet the mandate given to us by the regional Heads [last year].”

Accordingly, the Centre is strengthening its capacity by consolidating the work of its Monitoring and Evaluation Unit to better prepare it to function as an implementing agency. This will enable the Centre to access resources to implement programmes that are now largely within the remit of globally recognized institutions. The Centre’s expanded M&E Unit will assist regional governments in developing, monitoring and evaluating programmes. The Board has also unveiled plans to strengthen its fiduciary oversight through initiatives such as more frequent financial reporting,  a Finance and Audit Sub-Committee of the Board of Governors, an internal audit function for the Centre and increased focus on data and plant security.

Dr Nurse says these actions are necessary given the Centre’s shift from a project based orientation to more programmatic activities. He notes that the Centre, which is primarily funded through grants, is advancing efforts to complete the establishment of a Trust Fund. The Fund, which has been seeded with a grant from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, will be managed by a Board of Trustees external to the Centre. The Trust Fund will be a vital component of the Centre’s thrust to ensure its financial sustainability.

Learn more: CCCCC (2012) Delivering Transformational Change 2011-21. Implementing the CARICOM Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to Climate Change.

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