Jamaica Advances Climate Resilience in Health Sector with HNAP Stakeholder Consultation

HNAP consultation

Kingston, Jamaica, June 26, 2024 (PAHO) – Amid rising concerns over the effects of climate change on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), key stakeholders convened to address the critical impact on Jamaica's public health system at the Health National Adaptation Plan (HNAP) Stakeholder Consultation, held on June 20-21 in Kingston. The two-day consultation highlighted the urgent need for robust strategies to tackle the health challenges posed by climate change. 

Recognized as one of the foremost health threats of the 21st century, the two-day discussions focused on climate change and included key stakeholders from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the European Union (EU), with support from the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO). The event underscored the severe and ongoing impact of climate change on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and aimed to develop resilient health infrastructure in response.

Participants at the consultation explored the multifaceted effects of climate change on health and other sectors, identifying both barriers and opportunities for Jamaica’s development. A significant portion of the discussion was dedicated to the objectives of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Caribbean Readiness Proposal, emphasizing the necessity to strengthen resilience and advance the HNAP.

The HNAP process involves a comprehensive range of activities, from conducting vulnerability assessments to monitoring outcomes, all designed to build a robust health infrastructure capable of withstanding climate-related challenges.

The Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, in her contributions, noted that the health sector is now recognized as a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and health facilities have increased exposure to climate-related hazards. She explained that “we must increase climate action in the health sector…as a Ministry of Health and Wellness we have taken action, but we have much more work to be done that is based on sound evidence and best practice.”

The Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation in Kingston, Mr. Aniceto Rodrigues Ruiz, congratulated the Government of Jamaica for taking these steps toward better integration of health and climate policy and thanked PAHO and the project team for their facilitation of this process through the regional Climate Change and Health programme. He said that “the EU is honored to collaborate with the Caribbean region in these efforts,” co-financing this regional programme with a grant.

For his part, PAHO/WHO Jamaica Country Representative, Mr. Ian Stein, noted that Health National Adaptation Plans (HNAPs) play a pivotal role in developing climate-resilient health systems capable of anticipating, absorbing, and transforming in response to climate impacts.

“They comprehensively assess health system strengths, vulnerabilities, and opportunities for action, outlining detailed multi-sectoral plans to address climate-related health impacts within the broader framework of National Adaptation Planning (NAP). Jamaica, committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the health sector, is actively developing its HNAP and identifying any gaps in the system under the Green Climate Fund Caribbean Readiness Project, both under the PAHO/EU/CARIFORUM Strengthening Resilient Health Systems in the Caribbean,” Mr. Stein outlined.

Jamaica is one of the ten Caribbean countries supported under the PAHO/EU/CARIFORUM Strengthening Resilient Health Systems in the Caribbean for the development of the HNAP. Once finalized, the HNAP report will present key recommendations aimed at informing the development of policies, strategies, and programs to assist countries in their adaptation processes. This report is expected to be instrumental in guiding Jamaica and other nations in building sustainable, resilient health systems that can effectively respond to the growing challenges posed by climate change.