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Climate Variability and Change and their Health Effects in the Caribbean. Joan L. Aron, Ph.D. Vulnerability Associated with Climate Variability and Climate Change in Central America and the Caribbean IAI Summer Institute Oct 26 - Nov 8, 2003 Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic .

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climate variability and change and their health effects in the caribbean

Climate Variability and Change and their Health Effects in the Caribbean

Joan L. Aron, Ph.D.

Vulnerability Associated with

Climate Variability and Climate Change in

Central America and the Caribbean

IAI Summer Institute Oct 26 - Nov 8, 2003

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

alliance of small island states
Alliance of Small Island States

“Perhaps when the human health costs of climate change are appreciated and added to the material costs and environmental damages faced by small island States a new spirit of cooperation and partnership will emerge.”

His Excellency Tuiloma Neroni Slade Ambassador of Samoa to the United Nations Chairman, Alliance of Small Island States

Barbados, May 21, 2002

alliance of small island states1
Alliance of Small Island States
  • AOSIS: Coalition of small island and low-lying coastal countries
    • Africa, Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Pacific, South China Sea
  • Issues of environment and development
  • Vulnerability to the adverse effects of global climate change



small island developing states factors increasing vulnerability
Small Island Developing States Factors increasing vulnerability
  • Small physical size
  • Surrounded by large expanses of ocean
  • Relative isolation
  • Limited natural resources
  • Growing populations
  • Exposure to damaging natural disasters
  • Low economic diversification
  • Limited funds, human resources, skills
global climate change sea level rise
Global Climate ChangeSea level rise
  • Displacement of coastal communities
  • Disturbance of agricultural activity
  • Coastal erosion, beach loss, decline in tourism
  • Intrusion of sea water into freshwater aquifers
multiple time scales sea level rise
Multiple Time ScalesSea level rise

Sea level rise (long time scale)

Increased vulnerability to storm surges, coastal flooding

Storm event (short time scale)

global climate change changes in rainfall regimes
Global Climate ChangeChanges in rainfall regimes
  • Prospect of more frequent droughts and floods in tropical ocean regions in which small island states are located
  • Water supply is a major concern
  • Experience of small island states is a microcosm of the global picture
  • International Year of Freshwater 2003
water resources global issue
Water ResourcesGlobal issue

International Year of Freshwater 2003

multiple time scales changes in rainfall regimes
Multiple Time ScalesChanges in rainfall regimes
  • The El Niño/Southern Oscillation ( ENSO ) affects global weather patterns, cycling every two to seven years
  • Rainfall regimes shift
    • Floods or droughts
  • Responses to ENSO help to reduce adverse impacts of climate on health
enso 1997 1998 drought in pacific islands1
ENSO 1997-1998Drought in Pacific Islands
  • More skin disease in FSM, Marshalls
  • Poor air quality from wildfires in Guam, Pohnpei, Yap, Palau
  • Relief food shipments
  • Information campaign reduced incidence of diarrheal disease in Pohnpei hospital
  • Water storage and conservation
  • Many diseases under study ( dengue, ... )
vector borne diseases dengue1
Vector-borne DiseasesDengue
  • The Caribbean region has experienced a marked increase in the incidence of dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever in the past decade (Caribbean Epidemiology Centre - CAREC)
  • Assessments of the impact of climate change on the health sector point to a potential increase in the incidence of dengue (Adapting to Climate Change in the Caribbean)
vector borne diseases dengue2
Vector-borne DiseasesDengue
  • Major factors driving the spread of dengue include population growth, rapid urbanization, lack of effective mosquito control and movement of new dengue virus strains between countries. The global climate system is itself complex. Scientists are researching the role of climate and the best ways to use climate data in dengue control.
vector borne diseases dengue3
Vector-borne DiseasesDengue
  • Regional research project to devise a climate-based early warning system to predict and mitigate outbreaks of dengue fever in the Caribbean
    • Assessments of Impacts and Adaptations to Climate Change [AIACC]
    • University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Jamaica
    • Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC]
    • IAI-supported Collaborative Research Network on Diagnostics and Prediction of Climate Variability and Human Health Impacts in the Tropical Americas
vector borne diseases dengue4
Vector-borne DiseasesDengue
  • Another project applies Hadley climate model version 3 to project a modest temperature rise in the eastern Caribbean and a reduction in rainfall
  • Statistical and neural net early warning system for dengue on the island of Java
vector borne diseases malaria1
Vector-borne DiseasesMalaria
  • Two study sites in Colombia as part of the IAI-supported Collaborative Research Network on climate variability and health
  • Link between environmental temperature and the number of malaria cases
  • Study of a Bioclimatological Monitoring System in Institute of Meteorology in Cuba
other climate and health issues
Other Climate and Health Issues
  • Urban heat islands (San Juan, Puerto Rico]
  • 17-fold increase in asthma since 1973; 19.8% prevalence currently [Barbados]
  • Algal blooms in the sea [Adapting to Climate Change in the Caribbean]
  • Nutritional deficiencies due to decreased food production [Adapting to Climate Change in the Caribbean]
climate and food security in central america
Climate and Food Security in Central America
  • PAHO is developing a project on climate and food security in Central America
  • PAHO’s Nutrition Institute of Central America and Panama (INCAP) in Guatemala
cuba 1895 1898 epidemics in war peace
Cuba, 1895-1898Epidemics in war & peace
  • Wartime can increase crowding, contact, migration, vulnerability to disease
    • Spanish military ordered rural civilians to towns and halted transportation of foodstuffs
  • Different vulnerabilities to different diseases in different groups
    • Spanish soldiers lacked immunity to yellow fever
    • Cuban civilians lacked immunity to smallpox
regional interactions african dust in the caribbean1
Regional InteractionsAfrican dust in the Caribbean
  • African dust is transported in the atmosphere across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean.
  • Drought conditions in Africa have led to increasing amounts of dust over the past few decades.
  • Ongoing studies probe the effects of dust on human health, coral reefs, agriculture and livestock.
regional interactions river outflows from s america1
Regional InteractionsRiver outflows from S. America
  • Massive kills of reef fish from Trinidad & Tobago to Barbados - July to October 1999
  • Freshwater bacterium Streptococcus iniae isolated from dead and dying fish
  • High rainfall in northern S. America in 1999
  • Large quantities of fresh water from Amazon and Orinoco river basins
  • Lower salinities, higher temperatures, unusual reverse currents in the Caribbean
public health response
Public Health Response

“Ministries of Health should play a central role in this response -- but should also remember that finding enduring solutions will depend on inter-sectoral communication and convergence.”

Professor Tony McMichael Director, National Centre of Epidemiology and Population Health Australian National University

Barbados, May 21, 2002

inter agency network on climate and human health
Inter-Agency Network on Climate and Human Health
  • World Health Organization
  • World Meteorological Organization
  • United Nations Environment Programme

and their regional offices

inter agency network workshops in small island states
Inter-Agency Network Workshops in small island states
  • Pacific Ocean: Apia, Samoa, 2000
    • WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific
    • WMO Subregional Office for the South Pacific
  • Caribbean Sea: St. Philip, Barbados, 2002
    • Pan American Health Organization
    • Office of Caribbean Program Coordination
    • UNEP Regional Office for Latin Amer. & Carib.
  • Indian Ocean: Maldives, 2003 ( December )
    • WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia
principal partners in caribbean meeting on barbados
Principal Partners in Caribbean Meeting on Barbados

Barbados Ministries

Health; Physical Development & Environment

Caribbean Organizations


U.S. Donors


Canadian Donors

Health; Environment

next steps in climate and health
Next Steps in Climate and Health
  • Recommendations from workshop participants for enhancing awareness, using data, and strengthening institutions
  • Coordination of sharing of information and networking of regional organizations
  • Maldives workshop (Dec. 2003)
  • Guidelines for national vulnerability and adaptation assessments of health impacts of climate change
climate change and human health risks and responses
Climate Change and Human Health: Risks and Responses
  • WHO Publication in 2003 edited by Tony McMichael et al.
  • Interagency Network on Climate and Human Health (WHO, WMO, UNEP]
  • Seeks to describe the context and process of global climate change, its actual or likely impacts on health, and how human societies and their governments should respond
caribbean community climate change centre
Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre
  • Approved by CARICOM Heads of Government in 2002 and effectively starting in 2003
  • Host territory is Belize
  • Mandated to act as an executing agency for regional climate change programs and projects
  • Advisory mechanism on climate change policy to the CARICOM Secretariat and its member countries
mesoamerican and caribbean geospatial alliance macga
Mesoamerican and Caribbean Geospatial Alliance (MACGA)
  • MACGA infrastructure starting in 2003
  • Improve access and distribution of existing and new spatial datasets
  • Supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development
  • Technical leadership from the U.S. Geological Survey EROS Data Center