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Town Hall Meeting Will Seek Input on Public Health Impacts of Climate Change

Researchers with the University of the Virgin Islands' Caribbean Exploratory and Research Center (UVICERC) will conduct a Town Hall meeting Friday, Feb. 11, 2011 about the public health impacts of climate change. The public is invited to attend in order to understand the connection between climate change and public health in the Virgin Islands. Input is being sought to recommend the best ways to communicate important information to the public about adapting to climate change (extreme weather, flooding, shoreline loss due to sea level rise) and related public health issues (fish poisoning, dengue fever).

Dr. Gloria Callwood is the principal investigator on a grant entitled, "A Collaborative Response to Public Health Challenges linked to Climate Change Impacts in the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean." Dr. LaVerne E. Ragster serves as co-principal investigator and is responsible for the grant's implementation. The Town Hall meeting will provide a forum for evaluating methods Virgin Islanders currently use to communicate climate-related health challenges and will also help researchers determine how to get people to change their behavior.

The climate change impacts on public health grant addresses UVICERC's aim to evaluate ways to improve the health of Virgin Islanders.

"The only way we will be effective is if the community tells us what works for them," Dr. Ragster said of recommendations that may come from the Town Hall meeting. "We would be unwise to presuppose how we should communicate with the public to be effective or change behavior, and our objective is to change behavior in a positive way ."

The Town Hall meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m., via videoconference, between the UVI Administration and Conference Center's first floor conference room on St. Thomas and the Theatre (Room 401) of the Melvin Evans Center on UVI's St. Croix campus.

This project is based on a collaborative partnership between the UVICERC, the Medical University of South Carolina Office of Public Information and Community Outreach (MUSC/PICO), and the USVI Department of Health.

For further information on the impact of climate change on public health in the Caribbean please follow this link: http://www.myhealthwhatsclimategottodowithit.com.

To inquire about the CERC or to obtain information about the climate change impacts on public health grant, please contact Dr. LaVerne E. Ragster at 340-693-1336.