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Climate Change is Posing Extreme Health Risks for Pregnant Women, Babies - UN reports


"Climate change poses an existential threat to all of us, but pregnant women, babies and children face some of the gravest consequences of all" (Photo: Getty Images)

Pregnant women, babies and children face extreme health risks from climate catastrophes, a new report on Tuesday has said.

According to a Call for Action statement released by the United Nations (UN) agencies, the situation warrants urgent attention ahead of the global Conference of the Parties (COP28) negotiations on climate change in Dubai.

The document is titled Protecting maternal, newborn and child health from the impacts of climate change.


According to the document, the effects of climate events on maternal and child health "have been neglected, underreported and underestimated".

The report highlights that few countries' climate change response plans mention maternal or child health.

Glaring Omission

The report describes this as "a glaring omission and emblematic of the inadequate attention to the needs of women, newborns, and children in the climate change discourse".

"Climate change poses an existential threat to all of us, but pregnant women, babies and children face some of the gravest consequences of all," Bruce Aylward, Assistant Director General for Universal Health Coverage, Life Course at the World Health Organization (WHO) was quoted in the statement.

"Children's futures need to be consciously protected, which means taking climate action now for the sake of their health and survival, while ensuring their unique needs are recognized in the climate response."



Background

A series of devastating climate disasters have marked 2023.

Wildfires, floods, heatwaves and droughts are displacing people, killing crops and livestock, and worsening air pollution. An over-heating world is increasing the spread of deadly diseases like cholera, malaria and dengue, with dire consequences for pregnant women and children for whom these infections can be especially severe details the report.

Research shows that harm can begin even in the womb, leading to pregnancy-related complications, preterm birth, low birthweight and stillbirth. For children, consequences can last a lifetime, affecting the development of their bodies and brains as they grow says the report.

"Action on climate change often ignores that children's bodies and minds are uniquely vulnerable to pollution, deadly diseases and extreme weather," UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Programmes, Omar Abdi, was quoted in the release.


"We do this at our peril. The climate crisis is jeopardizing every child's fundamental right to health and well-being. It is our collective responsibility to listen and put children at the centre of urgent climate action, beginning at COP28. This is the moment to finally put children on the climate change agenda."


Source: Premium Times

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