Climate Change’s Health Impacts, and the Rights-Based Argument for Family Planning
UNFPA’s recently released State of World Population 2012 brings family planning to the center of the development debate. “There is indisputable evidence that when family planning is integrated into broader economic and social development initiatives, it can have a positive multiplier effect on human development and the well-being of entire nations,” the authors write. The report employs a rights-based approach to make the case for universal access to family planning – a goal which we are far from as 222 million women from the developing world currently have an unmet need for modern contraceptives. Meeting this need and improving quality of reproductive healthcare elsewhere would cost an additional $4.1 billion a year, but save approximately $5.7 billion in maternal and newborn health services. Other recommendations include increasing financial support and political commitment to ensure that family planning is of high quality, reducing the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions, including emergency contraception in family planning services, and engaging boys and men.
For various reasons, the poorest and most vulnerable populations often feel the greatest impact of climate change. One reason is climate change’s impact on their health, according to the World Health Organization and World Meteorological Association’s Atlas of Health and Climate. The joint report provides “sound scientific information on the connections between weather and climate and major health challenges,” with the goal of supporting proactive decision-making and building more climate-resilient systems and communities. The atlas covers a range of the most prevalent infectious diseases around the world, such as malaria and diarrhea, which kill over three million people annually combined; emergencies like droughts and floods, which impact food security and spread diseases; and emerging environmental challenges like ultraviolet radiation and air pollution, which directly affect human health and are exacerbated by climate change. With the report’s copious graphs, maps, and visual aids, the authors write that the aim is to be a visual “call to action” for greater coordination between health and climate experts, “by demonstrating how we can work together to apply science and evidence to lessen the adverse impacts of weather and climate.”