European Union Funded UWI Climate Change And Health Fellowship Training Launched

Bridgetown, Barbados, 8 June 2021 (PAHO/WHO) – Six fellows have been welcomed as the first cohort of a University of the West Indies (UWI) coordinated, one-year study to promote leadership in climate change and health.

Funded by the European Union (EU), it is one component of a five-year €7 million project coordinated by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).  The goal is to “Strengthen Climate Resilient Health Systems in the Caribbean” by improving climate and health systems, as well as human capacities, through collaborations with five main sub-regional partners (including the UWI).

At the opening ceremony, newly appointed Subregional Program Director Dean Chambliss noted that the fellows programme was a notable achievement of the project, which in his estimation had made significant headway this year by beginning to address many of the challenges to climate and health in this region.  “This is an important occasion as we take a significant step towards strengthening our workforce capacity through this interdisciplinary approach to climate change and health. The development of an innovative leadership training program, using a One Health model, could not come at a better time considering the threats posed by climate variability, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic…The six of you (fellows) represent the diversity of perspectives, professions and countries that is so urgently needed to address the multiple social, political and economic factors that influence the convergence of climate change and health,” he stated.

While noting the EU’s One Health, multidisciplinary approach in the fight against antimicrobial resistance in Europe, Dr. Luis Maia, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to BARBADOS, The Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, lauded the partners for the innovative approaches being used to make the connection between the environment and human health in CARIFORUM.
“Strong leadership and innovation are needed in order to design effective and appropriate responses to address the complex challenges and compounded vulnerabilities that characterize health care systems in the Caribbean. The creation of a network of informed and highly qualified leaders to support the ongoing efforts to highlight the impacts of climate on health is a crucial step to building needed capacity, provide opportunities for peer to peer learning and to apply the widely recognized One Health Approach in a unique way,” Dr Maia remarked.

The fellows are: Dr. Kenzy Jean-Pierre (Haiti), Shanika John (St. Vincent and the Grenadines), Steve Daniel (Barbados), Dr. Kim Newton-James (St. Lucia), Dr. William Hamilton (Bahamas) and Stephanie Cheuk-Alam (Suriname).

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor, The University of West Indies, thanked the EU and PAHO for building on the long and strong partnership in research and action around these public health and climate change matters.  He called on the partners to work together to find practical evidence-based solutions to these problems before us.  “This is not an area simply for theoretical research.  This is an area in which our University and our colleagues have their sleeves rolled up.  They are out there in the community, driving solutions and finding answers to these very serious problems facing our region… We are a results-oriented university,” he emphasized.

The Fellows will be furnished with the knowledge and skills to enable them to support national Caribbean governments in the inclusion of health elements in the national adaptation plans (NAPs) for Climate Change and will be able to lead in the development and implementation of these plans. It will prepare them to return to their country with the skills and knowledge to support the process of implementing the change, empower communities and support youth engagement. Fellows will develop, implement and report on a national project, which addresses a Climate Change and Health issue in their home country.   Find out more about the fellows progamme and the project.

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