The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is conducting a Climate Risks and Food Safety Baseline Assessment to better understand the impacts of unsafe food in the region, as well as to document the capacity of Caribbean nations to respond to and develop food safety plans that can withstand the effects of climate change. The assessment is part of a joint effort, “Strengthening Climate Resilient Health Systems in the Caribbean,” which is coordinated by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the EU, and the Caribbean Forum (CARIFOURM).

Climate change and severe weather events are exacerbating the pressure that Caribbean food production systems are facing, and Caribbean nations are particularly vulnerable to emerging diseases from climate change events. Officials have stressed the need to build climate-resilient food systems with a “One Health” approach while improving hygiene practices in the food and agricultural sectors.

The assessment seeks to determine the resilience of food safety, water safety, and agricultural sectors in response to the effects of climate change in CARIFORUM countries. Although national food safety plans have not historically considered climate resilience, CARPHA and PAHO will review and revise CARIFORUM nations’ plans so that they account for climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. 

The assessment will also identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in the surveillance and outbreak investigation of water- and foodborne pathogens and hazards related to climate events. Additionally, the assessment will identify reservoirs for foodborne and waterborne pathogens, as well as assess countries’ capacities for implementing climate-integrated foodborne illness notification systems.