The Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross Society (ABRCS) has taken a proactive approach to tackle climate change and health and wellness.

This move towards environmental conservation and wellness started off on Saturday, November 19, 2022, with the ABRCS President’s Wellness Day.

In a major collaborative effort between the Forestry Unit within the Ministry of Agriculture and the Medical Benefits Scheme, a number of participants aged 2 to almost 70 years, walked, then hiked to the hilly areas in Body Pond between Swetes Village and Bendals and engaged in a tree planting exercise.

A variety of fruit-bearing and hardwood trees were planted including mango, pear, raspberry, and mahogany.

To assist with the prevention of soil erosion, dozens of vetiver grass were strategically placed in areas susceptible to soil erosion. Vetiver grass is grown for many purposes.

The plant helps to stabilize soil and protects it against erosion. However, it can also protect fields against pests and weeds.

Before planting, the group was told by Mr. Algernon Grant, senior Forestry officer within the Forestry Unit, that the planting of this grass has a significant positive environmental impact.

Mr. Grant added that underneath each hedgerow an interlocking and dense root matrix creates vast, dense underground walls that not only reinforce soil structure but stabilize any associated infrastructure.

After the planting activity, the volunteers walked several miles to the screening site where the ABRC Mobile clinic was utilized to provide health screening.

A significant number of villagers were screened for hypertension, cholesterol and blood sugar while having access to professional nutritional counselling from veteran nutritionist with the Medical Benefits Scheme, Mrs. Dorothy Graham-Charles.

Many thanks to the owners of the Time Rite Bakery in Bendals, Celia and Patrick Colbourne, for providing the yard space to house this activity. The nursing professionals also played a significant role in this undertaking.

Through this initiative, the ABRCS was able to capture public health data and contribute to preventative health care in alignment with its role as an auxiliary to Government.

The ABRCS President, Dr. Jose Humphreys, in highlighting the significance of the activity, underscored the importance of prevention in health and wellness and fostering meaningful partnerships in the fight against climate change.

He said, “Climate change is one of the most urgent issues affecting our global population.

It is critical therefore that quick and decisive actions are taken to mitigate this challenge facing our planet and avoid some of the worst consequences of uncurbed global warming through deforestation.

We want to link environmental stability and preventative health care as vital and mutually inclusive elements of our survival as a people.”

The ABRCS hopes to roll out many more activities like these and hopefully bring more awareness to these very crucial issues.