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Building resilience to mosquito-borne diseases in the Caribbean.

Abstract

Small island developing states in the Caribbean are among the most vulnerable countries on the planet to climate variability and climate change. In the last 3 decades, the Caribbean region has undergone frequent and intense heat waves, storms, floods, and droughts. This has had a detrimental impact on population health and well-being, including an increase in infectious disease outbreaks. Recent advances in climate science have enhanced our ability to anticipate hydrometeorological hazards and associated public health challenges. Here, we discuss progress towards bridging the gap between climate science and public health decision-making in the Caribbean to build health system resilience to extreme climatic events. We focus on the development of climate services to help manage mosquito-transmitted disease epidemics. There are numerous areas of ongoing biological research aimed at better understanding the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases. Here, we emphasise additional factors that affect our ability to operationalise this biological understanding. We highlight a lack of financial resources, technical expertise, data sharing, and formalised partnerships between climate and health communities as major limiting factors to developing sustainable climate services for health. Recommendations include investing in integrated climate, health and mosquito surveillance systems, building regional and local human resource capacities, and designing national and regional cross-sectoral policies and national action plans. This will contribute towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and maximising regional development partnerships and co-benefits for improved health and well-being in the Caribbean.

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