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UN raises alarm over climate threats to pregnant women, children

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United Nations agencies have issued a stark warning about the dire health risks posed by climate catastrophes to pregnant women, babies, and children, urging world leaders to prioritize their protection.

According to The PUNCH, in a Call to Action released on Friday ahead of the global Conference of the Parties negotiations on climate change in Dubai, UN agencies highlighted the neglected, underreported, and underestimated effects of climate events on maternal and child health.

The document emphasized the glaring omission of maternal and child health considerations in most countries’ climate change response plans, a stark reflection of the inadequate attention given to the needs of women, newborns, and children in climate change discourse.

The Call to Action outlined seven urgent actions to address these escalating risks, including sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, robust climate finance measures, and the explicit inclusion of the needs of pregnant women, babies, and children within climate and disaster-related policies.

Protecting maternal, newborn and child health from the impacts of climate change – the effects of climate events on maternal and child health have been neglected, underreported and underestimated” the document read.

It highlights that very few countries’ climate change response plans mention maternal or child health, describing this as “a glaring omission and emblematic of the inadequate attention to the needs of women, newborns, and children in the climate change discourse” 

UNFPA Deputy Executive Director for Programmes Diene Keita stressed the importance of recognizing the distinct health needs and vulnerabilities of women and girls in formulating climate solutions. 

To find climate solutions that acknowledge the distinct health needs and vulnerabilities of women and girls we must start by asking the right questions. Global climate solutions must support – not sacrifice – gender equality,” she said.

Assistant Director General for Universal Health Coverage, Life Course at the World Health Organization Bruce Aylward also underscored the disproportionately severe consequences of climate change for children and pregnant women. 

He urged immediate climate action to protect their health and survival while ensuring that their unique needs are recognized in climate response strategies.

 

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