Anna M Stewart-Ibarra, Leslie Rollock, Sabu Best, Tia Brown, Avriel R Diaz, Willy Dunbar, Catherine A Lippi, Roché Mahon, Sadie J Ryan, Adrian Trotman, Cedric J Van Meerbeeck, Rachel Lowe
Over the past decade, the Caribbean region has been challenged by compound climate and health hazards, including tropical storms, extreme heat and droughts and overlapping epidemics of mosquito-borne diseases, including dengue, chikungunya and Zika. Early warning systems (EWS) are a key climate change adaptation strategy for the health sector. An EWS can integrate climate information in forecasting models to predict the risk of disease outbreaks several weeks or months in advance. In this article, we share our experiences of co-learning during the process of co-creating a dengue EWS for the health sector in Barbados, and we discuss barriers to implementation as well as key opportunities.
This process has involved bringing together health and climate practitioners with transdisciplinary researchers to jointly identify needs and priorities, assess available data, co-create an early warning tool, gather feedback via national and regional consultations and conduct trainings. Implementation is ongoing and our team continues to be committed to a long-term process of collaboration. Developing strong partnerships, particularly between the climate and health sectors in Barbados, has been a critical part of the research and development. In many countries, the national climate and health sectors have not worked together in a sustained or formal manner. This collaborative process has purposefully pushed us out of our comfort zone, challenging us to venture beyond our institutional and disciplinary silos. Through the co-creation of the EWS, we anticipate that the Barbados health system will be better able to mainstream climate information into decision-making processes using tailored tools, such as epidemic forecast reports, risk maps and climate-health bulletins, ultimately increasing the resilience of the health system.