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March 13, 2014

Climate Change: Implications for Maternal

Mortality and Disease
Tripta Singh
Email: tsingh@unfoundation.org
Deputy Director, Energy Access, Energy and Climate
United Nations Foundation


Health Impacts of Climate Change on
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Health ! Increase in infectious, water-
borne or vector-borne diseases,
e.g., malaria, due to increased
temperatures and intensified
! Heat-related illness
! Malnutrition
! Increased air pollution, allergies
and asthma
! Mental disorders such as
anxiety and depression
! Pregnant and lactating women, along
with the very young and very old, are
most vulnerable to health threats
! Increased lack of health-care services,
immunizations, family planning,
reproductive health care in disaster
! Potential increase in maternal and
infant mortality rates due to lack of care
! Lack of services and hygienic supplies
in relief shelters for pregnant, lactating
or menstruating women
Source: unu
Women and Health
287,000 women globally die from preventable
causes during pregnancy and childbirth. 99
percent of these deaths occur in developing
Ensuring effective provision of maternal and
community health services to women in these
countries is critical.
Electricity is a critical enabler in making
healthcare services available to women.

Energy and Womens Health
Inadequate or lack of lighting in clinics poses
barriers to the delivery of quality healthcare,
discourages patients from seeking care, and
compounds the risks of adverse outcomes.
A new analysis by the World Health Organization
the first multi-country analysis of electricity access in
health facilities found that only 34% of hospitals
have reliable electricity access in surveyed sub-
Saharan African countries.
Hot spots of mortality and disease closely match
areas where health facilities lack electricity.
Health Impacts of Fuel-based Lighting
Indoor pollutants from fuel-based lamps include
multiple hazardous materials an order of magnitude
higher than health guidelines. Correlations with
cataract and tuberculosis observed, but require
further study.
Fuel-based lighting is a significant cause of structural
fires and severe burn injuries, with particularly high
death rates (24% on average) in cases where
kerosene is adulterated with other fuels, resulting in
In India, nearly 15% of all burns are caused by
kerosene lamps, with a 7.4% mortality rate and a
female male incidence rate of 3:1.
Source: Lawrence 8erkeley nauonal LaboraLorles 6
Sustainable Energy for All Initiative
1.2 billion people worldwide are without access to electricity, and a
billion more have only intermittent access. 2.8 billion people lack
access to clean cooking solutions.

In response, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched a new
initiative in 2011 by the same name, calling on governments,
businesses, and civil society to make commitments to action to
accomplish three objectives by 2030:

The UN General Assembly Member States have unanimously declared
2014-2024 as the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All.
Energy Access Practitioner Network
Photo Credit: SELCO India
Photo Credit: Eight19
Energy and Womens Health
High Impact Opportunity Area
Multi-disciplinary initiative led by the UN Foundation
in partnership with WHO and UN Women.
Bringing together partners from the energy and
health sectors, governments, business and civil
society to develop and deliver decentralized,
sustainable energy solutions to remote areas.
Target regions include sub-Saharan Africa, South/
southeast Asia and parts of Americas with high
maternal mortality rates. Assessments being
conducted in 5 sub-Saharan Africa countries in the
pilot phase.

Our Approach
Identify target countries with high need, high maternal
mortality, and high engagement with SE4All.
Develop global evidence base linking energy access in health
care facilities to health outcomes.
Develop global evidence base on energy access and energy
requiring equipment access for womens health interventions.
Develop and promote procurement of sustainable energy
sources and energy efficient medical devices critical to
womens health.
Develop tools for health worker education, and maintenance,
training, and capacity building.
Develop and implement a comprehensive communications
and advocacy strategy.

Example of Practitioners
We Care Solar
We referred out a woman last week who had obstructed labor. The hospital
staff was ready [to perform a Caesarean section], the equipment was ready,
but the public utility went off at 8 p.m.," reports a midwife at a hospital in
northern Nigeria. "The woman died on the way to the next hospital." Dr.
Laura Stachel, WE CARE Solar
hoLo credlLs: WL CA8L Solar
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