Barbados: The Cost of Being a Climate Champion

Jutting out of the ocean as if a battle-weathered warrior is the island nation of Barbados, one of the many Small Island Developing States holding the frontline against the effects of climate change.    

Despite Barbados’ position on the battlefield, they did not start this war and did not set the rules of engagement. Instead, Barbados has to wage a campaign at international climate conventions to open up funding sources and adjust universal goals to suit its own reality. Nowhere is this more evident than in two paradigm-shifting projects: the new fishing regulations, which focus on measures to protect marine life, and the island-wide conversion to electrified vehicles by 2030. Though meeting climate objectives are high on the minds of Barbadians, experts are urging leaders to ensure that climate policies do not neglect the country’s unique circumstances.  

 “There are clear ways you could see that things aren’t tailored for our situation,” said Dr Shelly-Ann Cox, Ocean Professional Fisheries Management Specialist and CEO of Blue Shell Productions. ”And there are clear ways that you can see it could help, but then [we get] overwhelmed, there are no resources to build it out.

COVID-19’s Deadly NCD Connection

An estimated seven out of every 10 deaths in Barbados are linked to a non-communicable disease (NCD). 

The connection between NCDs and complications associated with COVID-19 is also well established as this opportunistic virus thrives on NCDs, weakening an already compromised system. Although the high incidence of non-communicable diseases in Barbados did not start with COVID-19, the pandemic has revealed holes in the system to address them. The situation also puts to the test traditions and behaviours surrounding NCD triggers

For the island, this presents a multi-pronged challenge to its public health assets. Barbados has long been keeping a close eye on what has been recognised as a high incidence of NCDs including hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels), cancers and pulmonary diseases.  

To that has recently been added a fifth category: mental health disease. Once included, the numbers rise and, along with them, the cost of healthcare.