PMNCH Knowledge Summary #32 Protecting women’s and children’s health from a changing climate

Protecting women’s and children’s health from a changing climate

15 SEPTEMBER 2014 | World Health Organization Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland

Climate change increases existing challenges to women’s and children’s health. Women and children are more likely to suffer and die from problems such as diarrhoea, undernutrition, malaria, and from the harmful effects of extreme weather events such as floods or drought. As world leaders, from government, finance, business, and civil society descend on New York for UNGA week and the Climate Summit 2014 on 23 September, designed to galvanize and catalyze climate action, PMNCH and partners launch a new Knowledge Summary – Protecting Women’s and Children’s Health from a Changing Climate. This Knowledge Summary aims to empower the health and sustainable development communities to advance action on addressing the impacts of climate change on the health of women and children.

The new Knowledge Summary identifies the challenges posed by a changing climate to women and children’s health, and shares information on the ways in which women and children are particularly effected. This includes four key areas: reduced access to a safe and secure water supply and sanitation, increased food insecurity and undernutrition, increase of infectious diseases spread by insects and pathogens, and increased vulnerability from warmer and more extreme weather. The Summary also notes the need for a multipronged approach to addressing climate change and its impact on health. This includes integrating efforts to prevent, lessen and address the effects of climate change across different sectors, and to strengthen health systems to prepare for, and respond to, the health needs of populations related to climate change. The Knowledge Summary notes that improving food security, nutrition services along the continuum of care, and educating women, children, their families and communities, can also improve resilience.