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Dr. Eva Lewis-Fuller, Director of Health Promotion and Protection in the Ministry of Health and Environment, has said that while no country is insulated against the effects of climate change, it is the poorest and most vulnerable countries that will be adversely affected.
She also said that climate change will have a pervasive effect on the environment and as a consequence, on the health of humans.
“The impact will be direct in terms of exposure to dangerous hazards and causing floods, storms and diseases. Human health will be adversely affected in many different ways. Increases in air temperature associated with global warming will result in increase in the dangerous pollutants in the earth’s atmosphere,” Dr. Lewis-Fuller said.
She was representing Minister of Health and Environment, Rudyard Spencer, at the exhibition and public lecture to mark World Health Day 2008 held at Terra Nova Hotel yesterday (April 7) under the theme: ‘Protecting Health from Climate Change’.
The Director explained that increases in dangerous pollutants will create an environment for increases in the incidence of respiratory and other related diseases. As a result, she noted that the Ministry will widen its immunization coverage; strengthen its disease surveillance and response; and intensify its vector control activities, especially in vulnerable areas.
She also noted that a comprehensive health policy will be developed in the 2008/09 financial year, which will seek to establish the policy and strategic framework for advancing Jamaica’s health sector and to move the country closer to achieving the vision of creating a world class health sector.
In addition, Dr. Lewis Fuller said that there is need to educate Jamaicans, so as to increase their awareness of climate change and its impact on their health. “Jamaicans need to know that while their Government is working in their interest, there is more that they can do at the individual level and at the community level to enhance their adaptive capacity,” she pointed out.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ernest Pate, Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative in Jamaica, said that climate change is having “some significant impact on many of the determinants of health.”
“It impacts significantly on our food supply, on the quality of air we take in and in fact, on our water supply,” Dr. Pate said.
He also added that there needs to be greater collaboration at the international level to deal with the effects of global change, in addition to increased surveillance so as to prevent an outbreak of vector-borne diseases.
World Health Day 2008 focused on the need to protect health from the adverse effects of climate change. The WHO selected this theme in recognition that climate change is posing ever growing threats to global public health security.