The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has identified climate emergency or crisis as impediment to achieving global goals.
Ms Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, UNFPA, said this on the occasion of the World Health Day with the message: “Sexual And Reproductive Health: A Foundation Of Resilience And Well-Being For People And Planet”.
This is contained in a statement by Hajiya Kori Habib, Media Associate, UNFPA, on Friday, April 8, 2022, in Abuja.
“The climate emergency imperils progress towards all our global goals, including achieving sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.
“Shifting temperatures and other climate consequences may lead to pregnancy losses or low birth weight,” she said.
Kanem said that natural disasters often disrupt provision of contraceptive services, which could lead to an increase in unintended pregnancies.
She affirmed that climate-induced disasters could also end programmes to respond to gender-based violence, saying where people are displaced, child marriages and other harmful practices also tend to rise.
Kanem further explained: “Since climate change is already happening and is likely to worsen, it is imperative that we act and adapt.
“This, including upholding sexual and reproductive health and rights, as a foundation of resilience and of the sustainable well-being of societies overall.
“We know that when women and girls can take control of their bodies and lives, it strengthens their ability to adapt to and weather the impacts of the climate crisis.”
She said that health systems must also be resilient, able to maintain these essential and life-saving services.
Kanem said that resilient protection systems are imperative to prevent and respond to gender-based violence.
She said that they must also be in place to support survivours and create safe and supportive spaces for families and communities.
The UNFPA Executive Director called for action against climate emergency not only to achieve global goals but restore hope in the health system.
“This is our wake-up call. We are not preparing well enough, even as some countries have sounded the alarm.
“So too have mass movements of youth and women who are leading efforts to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis.”
She expressed the commitment of the UN to marshalling attention to bridge gaps in their global ambitions.
She said that they would continue to shape national action plans and devising clean energy solutions that would reach poor communities who are often hit the hardest by the fallout of climate change.
“It is time to hear their cry and follow their lead. Humans created the climate crisis, and we must solve it
“Starting by upholding the sexual and reproductive health, rights and choices that can help us create a healthier future for people and the planet.”
Kanem said that the world was at acute risk from rising seas and other dire consequences, Pacific Island States are at the fore in urging climate action.
She said that they had also recognised, through an agreement among health ministers, that investing in reproductive health was an investment in resilience to climate change.
“Any country where women and young people cannot realise the right to health and bodily autonomy will not rise to meet the challenges.”
The 2022 World Health Day spotlighted climate crisis as the biggest threat to human life and health.
No fewer than 3.6 billion people, nearly half of humanity, are reported to live in climate change hotspots.
Many struggled to find sufficient food, water and income, with the most acute risks among those already vulnerable due to poverty or discrimination based on gender, race, age, disability or other factors.
By Ikenna Osuoha