WHO chief underscores need to address climate change following visit to Bahamas

2 October 2019

The top UN health official has called for the world to rally around The Bahamas as the country continues to emerge from the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian one month ago.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), made the appeal on Tuesday upon completion of a visit to the island nation.

“It breaks my heart to see the devastation to communities and families who have lost friends and loved ones as well as their homes, possessions and access to crucial services,” he said.

“Hurricane Dorian is another urgent reminder that we must address the drivers of climate change and invest more in resilient communities. The longer we wait, the more people will suffer. We need to keep the world and people safe.”

Hurricane Dorian struck on 1 September, hitting the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama. Overall, some 75,000 people have been affected, with around 1,500 still living in shelters.

Fifty-six people were killed in the storm and about 600 are still missing.

The WHO chief’s visit included stops in the two affected islands, where most households and other infrastructure were completely destroyed.

The hurricane dealt a substantial blow to the health sector, destroying five clinics across both islands, and interrupting electrical and water supplies.

The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), which serves as WHO’s Regional Office for the Americas, is the only UN agency with a physical presence in The Bahamas.

PAHO-WHO have deployed 20 staff there and have coordinated the mobilization of five International Emergency Medical Teams for the response.

 

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News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Treat climate crisis with ‘greatest urgency’, Bahamas leader tells UN Assembly

Hurricane Dorian, one of the most destructive Atlantic storms ever recorded, “is a generational tragedy” for The Bahamas, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said on Friday.

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The UN chief saw for himself the deadly power of Hurricane Dorian on the shattered islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama on Saturday, describing it as more like a “Category Hell” disaster, than the official Category 5 designation used by meteorologists.