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Saturday June 22, 2024

Climate change threatens low-lying Caribbean hospitals: UN

By Reuters
May 29, 2024
Waves crash against the seawall as Hurricane Irma slammed across islands in the northern Caribbean in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. — Reuters/File
Waves crash against the seawall as Hurricane Irma slammed across islands in the northern Caribbean in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. — Reuters/File

WASHINGTON: Tens of millions of people living in coastal areas around the Caribbean and Latin America face imminent risks to healthcare and key infrastructure as climate change brings more severe weather events, according to a United Nations report on Tuesday.

According to the report by the UN sexual and reproductive health agency (UNFPA), some 41 million people - 6 percent of all people living in the overall region - live in low-lying coastal areas at risk of storm surges, flooding and hurricanes. In the Caribbean alone, this represents some 17 percent.

“Behind our modeling of exposed coastal populations are millions of people – including poor and vulnerable Afrodescendent and indigenous women and girls – who are the least responsible for the climate crisis but are paying a heavy price when it comes to their sexual and reproductive health and rights,” said UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem.

“Climate change is not gender neutral and exacerbates existing inequalities,” she said. The report identified over 1,400 key hospitals located in low-lying coastal areas, using satellite imagery and population estimates to identify communities most at risk.