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UNDP Highlights Disproportionate Impacts of Climate Change on Women and Girls’ Health

UNDPApril 2013: The Asia-Pacific Regional Centre (APRC) of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has released a report, titled “The Health Impacts of Climate Change in Asia-Pacific,” which warns that the health impacts of climate change will disproportionately affect women and girls.

The report is issued as part of a series of Asia-Pacific Human Development Report technical background papers. Drawing on available data, the authors highlight the health risks of climate change and extreme climatic events in the region, including a rise in the prevalence of dengue, malaria, diarrheal diseases and malnutrition. They report that women and girls are particularly vulnerable, not only to diseases but to higher mortality rates in natural disasters. Women and girls also face increased risk of domestic violence and sexual assaults, if displaced to temporary shelters or camps as a result of disasters.

The report also identifies mountain communities, and those living in deltaic regions, coastal areas and urban slums, as having high health vulnerability to climate change.

The authors underscore that international aid has prioritized disaster recovery over building adaptive capacity, and that remedying this will require community engagement and capacity building at all levels.

Citing the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Framework for Action to Protect Human Health from the Effects of Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific, the authors recommend that governments study the health implications of climate change and increase awareness of this issue. They call for: strengthening of health systems to include the health aspect of climate change in national plans for adaptation, including monitoring of vector-borne diseases, food security, and air and water quality issues; and facilitating the health sector's active participation in national communications to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). [Publication: The Health Impacts of Climate Change in Asia-Pacific] [APRC Technical Background Papers Webpage]