Rising temperature poses serious health risks to pregnant women: Study

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India projected to experience a rise in annual temperatures by 1.7 to 2.2 degrees Celsius by 2030

New Delhi: A new study has revealed that the increase in temperature poses serious health risks to pregnant women in India, including preterm delivery, gestational hypertension, and pre-eclampsia.

With India projected to experience a rise in annual temperatures by 1.7 to 2.2 degrees Celsius by 2030, the number of individuals exposed to extreme heat conditions is on the rise, the study said.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said climate change and its impact are not a standalone crisis.

“There has to be a narrative around the agroecological zones in the country‚Ķ. India has to come up with legacy climate solutions that India has to offer and also study what the global north is facing in terms of climate change and how we can provide solutions” she added.

The study was conducted by MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Karmannya.

This new study sheds light on the disproportionately higher risks faced by women and children, particularly concerning health outcomes and socioeconomic vulnerabilities. Analysing various factors ranging from health risks to livelihoods, the report underscored the urgent need for targeted interventions to mitigate these effects.

It also emphasised the intersectionality of climate change and gender, highlighting how social and economic development play a crucial role in exacerbating vulnerabilities among women and children.

While acknowledging gender as a driver of vulnerability, the study found that most State Action Plans for Climate Change (SAPCC) in India inadequately address these gendered impacts.

To address these pressing issues, the study offered a set of recommendations aimed at mainstreaming gender-transformative approaches in climate action at both national and sub-national levels.

These recommendations include incorporating gender-sensitive measures in State Action Plans for Climate Change, enhancing targets and allocations for schemes targeting women and children to accelerate development goals, and conducting longitudinal cohort studies to inform context-specific solutions for mitigating climate-related hazards.

The study also emphasised the need to strengthen healthcare infrastructure to protect pregnant women and children from heat-related illnesses, implementing behaviour change communication strategies to raise awareness about climate-sensitive diseases among women.

The study also underscored the need for addressing indoor air pollution and ensuring access to clean cooking facilities to safeguard the health of women, particularly pregnant women.

It also called for promoting resilience-building initiatives for women, including infrastructure enhancement and livelihood diversification, as well as strengthening the capacity of female healthcare workers to respond to climate-related health emergencies.

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