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World Health Day 2022 is ‘Our Planet, Our Health

Address by Dr. Irving McIntyre on the Observance of World Health Day 2022

Good day and Happy World Health Day!
World Health Day is observed worldwide on the 7th of April every year to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
This is a day that aims to create awareness of a specific health theme that will highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization.
The theme of World Health Day 2022 is ‘Our Planet, Our Health’, and WHO will focus global attention on urgent actions needed to keep humans and the planet healthy and foster a movement to create societies focused on well-being. This year, the World Health Organisation estimated that more than 13 million deaths around the world each year are due to avoidable environmental causes with the climate crisis being the single biggest health threat facing humanity.

WHO speaks of extreme weather events, land degradation, and water scarcity which are displacing people and affecting their health, and this has been quite evident in our own country. The devastation experienced by Tropical storm Erika and Hurricane Maria is a testimony of such. Our planet and health are not only affected by natural disasters and climate crises, but the COVID-19 pandemic has identified gaps in all areas of society and underpinned the urgent need to create sustainable healthy societies committed to achieving equitable health now and in the future. The health of any society, though, is largely dependent on its economy.

WHO indicated that the present design of economies leads to inequitable distribution of income, wealth, and power, with too many people still living in poverty and instability. Breaking these cycles of destruction for the planet and human health will require legislative action, corporate reform, and individuals to take ownership and responsibility for our planet. Even as a small island developing state, we can overlook the part we play in creating and sustaining a healthy planet. This is one of the reasons why the Government of Dominica, through its various Ministries including Health, Environment, Education, has developed and continues to develop policy decisions and strategies to be implemented which are geared at improving the health of the populace.
These include:
 Approval by Cabinet of the National Disaster Management MultiHazards Plan for Dominica and the Health National Emergency Operation Centre, Concept of Operations.
 Implementation of strong national education; surveillance and monitoring of vector, food and water-borne diseases, vaccine-preventable diseases, sanitation, and hygiene.
 Construction and completion of 12 Health and Wellness Centres in Primary Healthcare, with 3 others in progress, as well as the construction of the Dominica China Friendship Hospital and Marigot Hospital.
 Training of Health workers in specialized areas and increasing the budget for procurement of medicines with the aim of improving access to wellness programs and thus good health.
 Completion of Drafting Instruction for Tobacco legislation and soon to implement regulations for smoke-free spaces.
 Implementation of HEARTS Initiative which will complement
Primary Health Care System in the management of diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.
 Review of cancer guidelines and increased training, screening, and early interventions. Cervical and breast cancer guidelines were developed and accelerated HPV vaccines were implemented.
Implementation of activities related to improvement in our health care delivery has not been the only focus and we have seen activities undertaken by other government Ministries:
 A broader approach by the Dominica Geothermal Development
Company Limited is to provide for use of renewable, clean energy through the responsible exploration of Dominica’s geothermal resource. Geothermal energy is one of the most promising energy sources. It has proven to be reliable with no carbon footprint hence limiting environmental impact.
 The National Forest Policy is a guide to the sustainable management and use of forest ecosystems. The objectives shall be achieved through proposed strategies and implementation mechanisms, ensuring the shared vision becomes our reality. Our forest ecosystems provide food, water, timber, clean air, and medical remedies which all play an invaluable role in climate change adaptation and mitigation.”
 Improvements in Dominica Solid Waste Management Cooperation’s waste storage, collection, treatment, and disposal of solid waste.
 The establishment of DVRP, with consideration for topography and relief, climate change projects, hydrology, biological environments, and road works. While the Government of Dominica through its various Ministries and
departments, plays its role in the reduction of pollution and impacts on climate change, every individual has a significant role to play.
 Proper disposal of garbage and waste, including composting.
 Reduce on use of plastics by switching to biodegradable bags.
 Engage in recycling programs, & buying recycled products.
 Proper disposal of derelict vehicles, glass, lead-acid batteries, plastics, used engine oil, used tires, white goods.
 Purchasing of fuel-efficient vehicles.
 Quit smoking to reduce the negative effects on yourself and individuals through second-hand smoke.
 Reduce consumption of unhealthy and processed foods with high sugar content, fats, and salt, and reduce alcohol consumption.
 Consumption of adequate amounts of water, fruits, and vegetables.
 Eat what you grow and grow what you eat.
 Engage in an active lifestyle.
 Participate in screening services even if you feel well.
 Reduction of forest fires.
 Walk, bike, or use public transportation as well as carpool to help reduce our carbon footprint.
 Save energy by turning off the lights when not in use in addition to using energy-saving bulbs.
 Plant and grow as many trees as possible.
 And lastly, raise awareness- Let the people around you know how they can contribute to a cleaner environment. In observance of World Health Day 2022, the Ministry of Health, Wellness, and New Health Investment, in partnership with other stakeholders, will engage and educate the public by providing
information on all social media platforms. We urge you to get involved, participate and let’s protect our health and planet together!