Protecting the environment, preserving health and well being
The Environmental Health and Sustainable Development (EHS) Department of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) supports the Caribbean’s sustainable development agenda by playing a lead role in key areas related to environmental management for optimal public health.
CARPHA Member States include a number of vulnerable Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and low-lying coastal states. These SIDS face significant challenges to their sustainable development as a result of climate change, natural and environmental disasters and other global threats.
EHS is committed to becoming the Caribbean’s centre of excellence for Environmental Health and Sustainable Development, through its dedicated pursuit of sustainable solutions to environmental problems within the Region.
The Environmental Health Laboratory (EHL) located within the EHS is accredited to ISO 17025 by the Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation (CALA). This full-service microbiological and analytical laboratory provides environmental analyses, including water quality monitoring, plant, soil and tissue analyses, food microbiological testing, indoor environmental quality monitoring and noise testing.
The laboratory is operated by certified professional and technical staff trained to consistently deliver to quality standards. The laboratory provides testing services to CARPHA Member States and private sector clients, and offers the following technical and advisory services.
Indoor environmental quality is a major concern because it can impact health, comfort, wellbeing and productivity. It has been estimated that people spend up to 90% of their time indoors. EHS conducts assessments of indoor environments to evaluate and make recommendations for addressing potential hazards and indicators associated with ill-health, comfort and safety including:
Under Environmental Monitoring Services, we can provide a list of analyses we conduct, such as:
A substantial component of the work of the EHS is environmental assessments. These can range from visual inspections to multidisciplinary environmental assessments.
EHS supports Member States in:
Many rural areas throughout the Caribbean are forced to live without a pipe borne supply of water. Some individuals have to walk miles to get a potable supply of water. Their only source of water is from rivers, standpipes or paying for the delivery of water by water trucks. Rainwater harvesting can be a means of self-reliance for these communities, especially in the southern islands in the Caribbean where there are high rainfall levels.
Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) is a cost-effective technique, and represents a viable solution for poor water scarce communities to become self-sufficient in their water supply. Rainwater harvesting can be a useful tool for developing countries in advancing their attainment of the Millennium Development Goals on water, sanitation and poverty alleviation.
A Toolbox on Rainwater Harvesting in the Caribbean
The Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solutions (CATS) follows a ‘Ridge-to-Reef Approach’ by bringing together two regional programmes, the “Adaptation of Rural Economies and Natural Resources to Climate Change”, and the “Management of Coastal Resources and Conservation of Marine Biodiversity”. CATS-1 supports adaptive measures in agriculture, forestry and water and waste water management. Visit the CATS website to learn more about the programme.
EHS recognizes the significance of waste management due to an expanding tourism sector, changing consumption patterns and resultant increase in food packaging material, as well as electronic waste such as computers and cellular phones. The lifespan of landfills is shrinking with the increasing volume of solid waste. The EHS promotes the idea of waste diversion from the landfills using a variety of strategies such as reduction, reuse and recycling of waste products.
The holistic concept of sustainable production and consumption, advocates efficient use of resources and process inputs for livelihoods and wellbeing, while optimising energy consumption and minimising waste generation, across all economic sectors. EHS has provided awareness and training in this concept, through case studies in the tourism, agricultural and manufacturing sectors. The reuse of wastewater provides an opportunity to minimize the application of potable water for non-potable purposes. Water used for cooling industrial equipment for example, can be used for shop floor sanitation, or irrigation and landscaping.
Healthy work and school environments have emerged as an area of particular concern. EHS endorses the WHO Global Plan of Action on Workers’ Health, which can guide Member States as follows:
Development of the healthy workplace initiatives, to address issues related to physical structure, air, machinery, furniture, products, chemicals and materials found in the workplace.
Support development of eco-innovative processes. Areas typically addressed would be hazards associated with:
The Health-Climatic Bulletin (HCB) is a climate-smart tool developed and disseminated by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) to help the health sector to manage climate risk. The HCB guides health professionals that manage health systems to identify and prepare for upcoming favourable or inclement climate conditions in the Caribbean in the very near future. It does this by suggesting several implications of forecasted climate in a number of key areas including respiratory illness, non-communicable diseases, vector borne illness, gastrointestinal illness, physical injury or death, and well-being and mental health. Use of this information can help to inform strategic and operational decisions.
Copyright 2022 by The Caribbean Public Health Agency