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Guyana is working with PAHO/WHO in a National Action Plan for Health on Climate Change

06/08/2017 | Source: Ministry of Health - Guyana - Author: Delicia Haynes
The Ministry of Public Health of Guyana is geared towards drafting a National Action Plan for health on climate change. This will entail a collaborative effort involving the Pan American Health Organisation World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) and a number of relevant stakeholders within Guyana.

‘Connecting People to Nature’, the theme for World Environment Day 2017, implores us to get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and its importance, and to take forward the call to protect the Earth that we share.

Upon recognising the adverse effects of climate change on the world’s health sector, hosting of this seminar is being regarded as timely. Hence a two day inter-agency seminar, is being hosted by the ministry of Public Health from June 5 to 6 at the Regency Suites.

Worldwide, Health is a fundamental element in the Sustainable development agenda. With climate change taking it preeminence, its challenges and effects must be confronted since it poses a threat to the environment, economies and health.

These were some of the sentiments of PAHO/WHO’s Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) and family Health Specialist, Karen Roberts, “Climate Change is one of the greatest challenges we are facing. Climate change will affect, in adverse ways, some of the most fundamental determinants of health such as food, air, water and shelter,” She said.

Moreover, Roberts explained that the ecosystem services will also be affected which will increase vulnerability with regard to food security, water supply, natural disasters, human health and socio-economic development.  Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings who gave brief remarks at the seminar’s opening said that discussions which will be had must take full considerations of scientific evidence, factors and causes of climate change.

“Climate change threatens the world’s clean water supply and sanitation. The Sustainable Development Goal number six is to, “Ensure access to water and sanitation for all.” Recently various global health programmes, on multi-sectoral levels have included Hygiene, creating Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene programmes.” Dr. Cummings noted.

The four areas of focus in developing Guyana’s action plan include evidence based decision making (scientific evidence), increased awareness 

and education, partnerships, and adaptation. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are specific health effects of climate change

These effects include greater risk of injury, disease or death from extreme weather events such as prolonged heat waves or floods, greater transmission of vector and water-borne diseases as well as zoonosis, poor air quality causing cardiac and respiratory illness, reduction in the levels of safe drinking water, adverse effects of exposure to ultraviolet light, malnutrition due to poor crop yield and social and economic impacts on mental health and well-being.

Although global warming which can be related to climate change may bring some localised benefits, such as fewer winter deaths in temperate climates and increased food production in certain areas, the overall health effects of a changing climate are likely to be negative.

All populations will be affected by climate change, but some are more vulnerable than others. People living in small island developing states and other coastal regions are particularly vulnerable. It is anticipated that the strategic lines of action which will be outlined in the action plan will address the complex issues which climate change will present in Guyana.

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