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Jamaica’s Response to Climate Change: Reinforcing Public Health Systems for a Resilient Future

Climate Change and the Transformation of Jamaica’s Public Health System

In the face of escalating climate change concerns that disproportionately affect Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Jamaica has taken pivotal steps towards fortifying its public health systems. During an eminent Health National Adaptation Plan (HNAP) Stakeholder Consultation held in Kingston over June 20-21, critical discussions unfolded, aiming to devise strategies for reinforcing the nation’s health infrastructure against the adversities of climate change.

The consultation attracted a convergence of experts and representatives across multiple sectors, including the Jamaican Ministry of Health and Wellness, alongside international partners such as the European Union (EU), who, together with the guidance from the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), deliberated on the exigent implications of climate change on health.

This gathering aimed to shed light on the drastic impacts of climate change on SIDS and spearhead the development of a resilient health infrastructure capable of addressing the growing climate-related health challenges. This initiative is critical as Jamaica, along with other Caribbean nations, faces an upward trajectory in health dilemmas spurred by climatic disturbances.


Throughout the consultation, participants delved into a comprehensive exploration of how climate change intersects with health and various sectors, teasing apart both the hurdles and prospects for Jamaica’s progression. Notably, the dialogue focused on leveraging the Green Climate Fund Caribbean Readiness Proposal to bolster resilience and propel the HNAP forward.

The HNAP process is a thoroughgoing endeavor aiming to construct a well-equipped health infrastructure by executing vulnerability assessments, formulating plans, and ensuring the continuous surveillance of outcomes to offset the brunt of climate-related phenomena.

Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, a preeminent figure in the health sector, accentuated the critical role the health sector plays in contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and its susceptibility to climate-induced hazards. “There is an undeniable need to amplify climate action within the health sector. Our Ministry has initiated measures, yet there remains an extensive journey ahead, reliant on empirical evidence and best practices,” she remarked.

Aniceto Rodrigues Ruiz, representing the EU in Kingston, lauded Jamaica’s government for its holistic approach to intertwining health and climate policies. He also commended PAHO and the project’s team for their instrumental role in catalyzing this integration through the regional climate change and health programme. “The EU is proud to partner with the Caribbean in these endeavours, furnishing support through grants to aid in this regional programme,” he stated.

According to Ian Stein, PAHO/WHO’s Jamaica Country Representative, HNAPs are pivotal in concocting climate-resilient health systems adept at anticipating, enduring, and evolving in the face of climate impacts. He highlighted that these plans meticulously assess the health system’s strengths and weaknesses, charting multisectoral strategies to mitigate climate-related health ramifications. Stein also spotlighted Jamaica’s commitment to curbing greenhouse gas emissions within the health sector and its vigorous pursuit in bridging gaps identified through the HNAP process under the Green Climate Fund Caribbean Readiness Project.

Jamaica stands among the 10 Caribbean territories receiving support under the PAHO/EU/CARIFORUM initiative focused on Strengthening Resilient Health Systems in the Caribbean. This endeavour aims to furnish the groundwork for developing HNAPs in these nations.

The forthcoming HNAP report promises to deliver critical insights and recommendations to shape the future of policies, strategies, and programs that will aid Jamaica, among other countries, in their adaptation efforts. This blueprint will serve as a cornerstone in guiding the nation towards constructing sustainable, resilient health systems poised to tackle the burgeoning challenges posed by climate change effectively.

As Jamaica forges ahead in embracing comprehensive and preemptive measures against the backdrop of climate change, the imperative to integrate health and climatic considerations becomes increasingly clear. The outcomes of the HNAP Stakeholder Consultation signify a crucial step towards that direction, embodying a collective commitment to safeguard public health against the unpredictable and often harsh whims of our changing climate.

Ethan Wilder

Ethan Wilder is a conservation photographer and videographer whose lens captures the awe-inspiring beauty of the natural world and the critical challenges it faces. With a focus on wilderness preservation and animal rights, Ethan's work is a poignant reminder of what is at stake. His photo essays and narratives delve into the heart of environmental issues, combining stunning visuals with compelling storytelling. Ethan offers a unique perspective on the role of art in activism, inviting readers to witness the planet's wonders and advocating for their protection.

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